Star Trek Discovery; Into the Forest I Go

Welcome to my recap of episode nine (the mid-season finale) of Star Trek Discovery, Into the Forest I Go. (A quote by Scottish/American conservationist John Muir).

This is the first TV Trek since 2005, so dust off your director’s cut DVD of Star Trek Five – The Final Frontier and get ready to Boldly go once more.

Episode Nine – Into the Forest I Go

This blog contains spoilers so if you haven’t watched episode nine yet – What are you? A green-blooded hobgoblin? This review will definitely contain spoilers for episode nine, so look away now, this is your last chance! Ready, the review is below the photo, so let’s go.

Damn it man! I’m a writer not an Ent  

The ship of the dead is on its way to Pahvo but the mean Vulcan admiral orders Lorca to retreat to federation space and he is not happy with this. If Lorca spoke with the voice of Lucius Malfoy he might say “that’s just not Quidditch.” Needless to say the L-Man is not a man to follow a direct order if it doesn’t suit his agenda. Is this moralistic on his part or does he just have a problem with authority?

“You want me to run from a fight leaving a peaceful species to face annihilation!”

Ordered to Starbase 46, Lorca begrudgingly follows orders (or so it appears). Deploying warp instead of the spore-drive he informs his relieved crew that if you’re going to disobey a direct order it’s best not to make it too obvious. The Discovery has three hours to find a solution to the Klingons cloaking ability and to save the Pahvans.

Lorca asks Stamets to fake an issue with his interface (that’s a problem I’ve had before but I took a course of antibiotics and it soon cleared up) as this will give them stalling time and a reasonable excuse for not using the spore-drive.

They hatch a plan involving a boarding party but Stamets receives his medical and it is revealed he has a re-structuring of his brain. The Doctor isn’t pleased about this but he is ordered to send his medical report straight to the captain, so it can be buried until another day. Lorca doesn’t want anything like someone’s health to get in the way of winning “the war, I’m fighting a war.”

“You’ve chosen to go where no one has gone before.”

Lorca wants Stamets to make 133 micro-jumps, which is using the drive in ways that they’ve never conceived of. He is enticed by Lorca to take this dangerous action by the promise of more data mapping of the parallel dimensions of the mushroom road.

The captain appeals to what he knows of Stamets desire to explore. He claims this is because he too has a scientific interest in space exploration but they have to win the war first. But it still feels like Lorca is holding something back. He does care for his crew I think but his overriding obsession is to win the war at all costs, and if this means manipulating people to achieve it, then that is what he will do. He’s like an evil genie granting people their greatest desires. Burnham a shot at redemption, Stamets a chance to push the boundaries of science.

Tyler and Burnham convince Lorca that it should be the two of them that go aboard the mummy ship. He doesn’t want her to go but she tells him that this is the reason he invited her onto the crew, to help him stop the war. He reluctantly agrees.

Tilly lets slip that Stamets has been hiding his side-effects and Dr Culber is concerned but does his duty. He does insist on monitoring Stamets closely and Discovery not for the first time evokes TWOK as he stands with his hand on the chamber glass.

Lorca gives a rousing speech telling them that when they started that they were timid scientists but now they are warriors. “They can take our spore-drive but they’ll never take our freedom.” He almost shouts. Tyler and  Burnham sneak onto the ship of the dead when it drops its cloak, deploying sensors that will send back data to Discovery assisting them to decode the cloak. Burnham detects a human life-sign aboard the ship. Tyler has a klingon weapon on his person (an odd reveal, which I’ll come back to) and this helps them break into the room where Cornwell is still alive. Coming face to face with L’Rell triggers his PTSD because of the abuse he suffered at her hands. PTSD is a recurring theme  the show does well portraying it, sometimes to harrowing effect.

Burnham makes it to the bridge on her own and triggers the final sensor and Discovery jumps again and again firing on the Klignon ship. The sensors transmit the cloaking sequence and the 133 jumps help them to map out the exact location of the Mummy ship.

We see the horrific torture that Tyler was subjected to and Cornwell tries to talk him out of it, telling him to go to his happy place.

“There’s a clearing in the forest, that’s where it goes”. What’s Stamets talking about? A Meryl Streep number or something greater, as if such a thing could exist. Either way Stamets is struggling to stay alive carriying out so many jumps and Lorca orders him to be kept alive until the job is done becaue Trillions of lives are at stake. It shows a brutalness that is unthinkable by Picard or any other Captain we’ve met before.

Cornwell cannot move her legs and Tyler finally pulls himself together at the memory of Burnham. Burnham tells Kol that she killed T’Kuvma and she challenges him to combat as that is honourable and Kol agrees. It is nice to see a reference to Klingon honour as it has been missing so far in this version of Trek.

Meanwhile back on the Discovery they almost have the data they need but Lorca commands that they are not going anywhere until they have Tyler and Burnham back. What is it about Burnham that Lorca is so protective of? In a epic fight with Kol Burnham takes a beating but gets a good few blows in before beaming away, taking Giorgiou’s badge (up to now being used as a Klingon tooth pick) with her along with no small degree of redemption. Discovery fires on Kol and the ship is destroyed. They rescue Cornwell and L’Rell also beams aboard with them and is taken into custody.

With 15 minutes of the episode to go and with the Pahvans saved, Kol’s death, and Cornwell’s life being established I started to think that everything seemed wrapped up far too neatly. I liked the understated nature of this episode. Yes there was plenty of action but they didn’t go with any overly dramatic cliff hangers, just further hints at stuff that we’ve probably already guessed. What the episode had was plenty of fantastic acting and a fair bit of nuance, we are being shown rather than told.

But it turns out that there is a little more to come before the episode is up and in an emotional scene Tyler discloses to Burnham that he encouraged L’Rell’s advances to survive; to get out but it has taken its toll on his psyche. Burnham tells him he deserves to live his life at peace and with her. We are shown a horrific scene where Tyler remembers his time with L’Rell, including what is maybe the first ever televised female Klingon nipple. (Well somebody needed to say it).

Starfleet want to award the Legion of Honour to Lorca (previous recipients McCoy and Data) because of his endeavours, Lorca tells Starfleet to give the medal to Stamets. He tells him that you’ve opened up a whole new era of travel.  Stamets says he will do one last jump and never jump again. Inevitably this turns out to be a spectacularly bad idea and he dumps the whole ship into an unknown part of space or my bet is that they are in the mirror universe. Stamets eyes turn white and he says he can see them all. All the universes simultaneously.

As we break for the mid-season it is worth noting how fantastic the show looks, the effects are fantastic but also the attention to detail in the set, fight sequences, the costumes and the writing is more than I could have hoped for. It may not always be apparent to the casual observer but I can assure you the writers really appear to know what they are doing and they certainly know their Trek. These guys and gals are not going to make the kind of continuity error that causes a rip in the space-time continuum.

Phasers set to “that was fricking awesome.”

This could be the episode where Sonequa Martin-Green’s Burnham became a bonafide classic Trek character. She acts the shit out of this episode, her bravery, fighting skills and tactical nous were completely kick ass, I am now firmly on board team Burnham.

Beyond the Guardian of Forever

The only reference I could find to a previous Trek mention of StarBase 46 is the DS9 Novel Force and Motion, which is about Captain Benjamin Maxwell (Miles O’Brien’s previous commanding officer as established in TNG episode The Wounded.)

I think the casting has been phenomenal and Isaac is killing it as Lorca. Where he ranks on the all time captain list I guess only time will tell.

Boldly Going On

Last week I may have inadvertently stumbled upon some truth about Tyler but the fan-theory about him doing the rounds online is so spoilerific I am not going to share it here. Tyler’s initial reaction to L’Rell seemed to put pay to this fan theory although I do think you can read Tyler’s interactions with L’Rell more than one way, but as I said no spoilers.

What are your thoughts on the shows violence? There has been some grumbling online about it and I’m of the mind they have pitched it just the right side of gratuitous, just.

So where does the mid-season finale leave us? Is Cornwell going to report Lorca unfit still, who is Tyler, will we ever see a Wil Wheaton cameo and where is Spock?

We have now added Sara Mitich and Patrick Kwok-Choon to our LSG wall of fame, both of them re-tweeting the blog last week, which was pretty awesome. And both Mr Rhys and Airiam get more lines this week and I am hopeful we might see expanded roles for some of the secondary characters in the seasons to come.

Thank you to Glenn and Valerie on the Lower Decks, your podcast has been an essential part of my Discovery routine this last 9 weeks and your theories and support for this blog have been much appreciated. Also a big thanks to everyone who has contributed in the forum it has been a blast, I hope you will join me after the new year for the rest of the series.

What did you think? Where does this rank with the Treks of lore? Are you excited by the prospect of voyages in the mirror universe, are you super pumped for the second half of the series and when is Section 31 going to make an appearance? Join me over at the Trek Talk forum if you want to discuss it further.

Until next year I’ll leave you with a quote from John Muir as I think it’s pertinent.

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”

John is a writer and clinically diagnosed Trekker. You can get the latest news about his published work at his website The World Outside the Window.