Star Trek Discovery; The War Without, The War Within

This is my recap of episode Fourteen of Star Trek Discovery, The War Without the War Within.

This is the first TV Trek since 2005 and with season 2 already confirmed we have a lot to look forward to, so dust off your Klingon guide to Shakespeare and get ready to boldly go once more.

Episode Fourteen – The War Without the War Within

This blog contains spoilers so if you haven’t watched episode fourteen yet – What are you? A green-blooded hobgoblin? This review will definitely contain spoilers for episode fourteen, 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 the CMO of the Discovery (although I might be because we’ve never met them)

The last couple of weeks have spawned fan fiction, debates about bias within the liberal arts, and has even seen the forum meditating on grief. This show is constantly asking questions of its viewers, subtly and not so subtly. This week’s episode is no different. It is a sombre and thoughtful episode. It is in many ways the sort of episode I have been craving for the whole season. It takes its time and allows the characters some time to recover from recent events.

Saru is temporarlily befuddled by the appearance of Georgiou but recovers when he realises who she really is. We meet the doctor looking after Tyler, a risky job which pays well but you don’t want want to rush in planning your retirement. Step forward Dr Pollard (is she the CMO? Why haven’t we met the CMO yet?).

Is Tyler now human or Klingon? Or maybe both suggests Saru; the doctor is not sure but she believes that it is Tyler we are now dealing with. Tyler still has full access to Voq’s memories, he can remember what was done to him and he can remember trying to kill Burnham and killing Culber.

This character remains fascinating, he is now arguably a new single entity but his body still committed the crimes. He remembers everything he’s done. But despite this, the gentle compassion of Saru refuses to take away his freedom. He gives him limited privileges aboard the Discovery.

This episode looks at love and the different things it can mean and evoke in others. For L’Rell and Voq it was an incredibly destructive force and for Sarek it is one of the paths to peace.

“Don’t regret loving someone Michael.”

I was excited to see the return of Cornwell and Sarek. They make a spectacular entrance by beaming aboard the Discovery. Sarek performs a mind meld on Saru (a non-consensual invasion) but desparate times call for desperate measures, a motif that runs through this episode. Starfleet command do this as they do not know where they have been for 9 months, as they witnessed the destruction of what they thought was prime Discovery.

The Klingons have waged a devastating assault on the Federation in the Discovery’s absence, carving up territory to claim bragging rights. Saru and Burnham explain where they have been and the truth about Lorca. Cornwell mourns the loss of “her Gabriel,” speculating that he couldn’t have survived the mirror universe on his own.

This line could be a hint that we will see him again in his prime version, as it seems to confirm that mirror Lorca coming to this universe required a swap with Prime Lorca.

They are now able to introduce the intel about the cloak tech to the rest of the fleet. We see Klingon attacks that evoke images of Dresden, Hiroshima, as well as more modern day suicide attacks. Sarek is in glum mood, reflecting that they are fighting all 24 houses of the Klingon empire.

“Our deaths are fodder to their savagery.”

Cornwell makes a decision to make all evidence of the mirror universe and the spore technology classified. Their argument is that if people had the knowledge of the mirror universe and knew that the technology exists to get there then they would do anything to see their loved ones again. The information is too dangerous so they are going to censor it. Is the price of a free civilisation that difficult decisions have to be made, certain liberties sacrificed in the name of the greater good? This is an interesting debate and also brilliant writing because here we finally have the answer to how come we’ve never heard of the spore drive before? Easy, it was classified.

Everything is looking pretty hopeless and when they get to Starbase 1 the Klingons have already breached this station and claimed it as their own. There are no human survivors.

Desperate to find a way to change their fortunes Burnham and Cornwell take unilateral decisions that mirror each other. (See what I did there.) Cornwell, who it is great to have back as she really is awesome, goes to see L’Rell, and asks how can they beat the Klingons. Her message is stark, the only way to do that is to conquer them, otherwise they will never stop.

Burnham appeals to her evil Step-Mom. She gives her some information about Qo’nos and Cornwell appeals to what remains of Starfleet for the authorisation to take the fight to the Klingons, to attack their home world, forcing the Klingons to come back home and give the federation some breathing space.

Georgiou ups the ante and asks to see Sarek alone, she makes him an offer – a way to destroy the Klingons completely in exchange for her freedom. We don’t see his reply but in later scenes and based on the heavy foreshadowing in his speeches we can guess that he is going to take her up on her offer.

It’s Complicated

The Discovery need some more magic mushrooms to jump to the Klingon home world and Stamet’s has a brilliant idea, they can re-grow their stock by firing the original cuttings into an uninhabited moon, and in a scene that echoes the genesis device in TWOK, that is exactly what they do.

Tyler is welcomed back by some of his crew mates but Stamets and Burnham are less ready to forgive his sins, whoever might have committed them. Burnham tells him “when I look at you now I see Voq’s eyes.” She is finding it hard to forget that he had his hands round her throat, and whatever excuse he gives, he still harmed her and she walks away even though it is hard.

She reflects that in regrowing the spores that something beautiful can grow in the most desolate of wastelands, giving Tyler a sort of backhanded hope.

The episode ends with Cornwell introducing Captain Georgiou to the bridge crew, she tells them that she in fact did not die but was rescued in a top secret mission. The only ones who know it is mirror Georgiou is Saru and Burnham. The Starfleet brass has made a deal with the devil and handed over their best ship in the hope that using the enemy within will help them win the war. I suspect that Georgiou is upto no good and I expect some use of a terrible biological weapon.

Into the Nexus

After not mentioning it for a few weeks I am able to dust off my well-worn Section 31 theory. Cornwell and the admiralty’s decision to keep the mirror universe a secret is something the Terran empire would do but it also feels like something Section 31 would oversee and Sarek and Cornwell are even wearing uniforms similar to Section 31 uniforms we’ve seen in the past. I have taken the liberty of providing photographic evidence, doesn’t Cornwell’s badge look a little Section 31-ish?

So friends what did you think? I was dubious about the mirror storyline but I think it has been clever and full of surprises. It was also cool to see Captain Archer name checked, the last member of Starfleet on Qo’nos 100 years ago. Join me in the Trek Talk forum if you want to share your views.

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.