They’re back! Happy new year to all you lovely Trekkies. I hope you got through blue Monday despite being reminded every five minutes that it was blue Monday. This is my recap of episode eleven of Star Trek Discovery, The Wolf Inside.
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 Tek-War (starring Greg Evigan) video cassette and get ready to Boldly go once more.
Episode Eleven – The Wolf Inside
This blog contains spoilers so if you haven’t watched episode eleven yet – What are you? A green-blooded hobgoblin? This review will definitely contain spoilers for episode eleven, 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 or am I actually an evil mirror version of myself?
A faulty bulkhead is being attended to on one of the lower decks, and we see Stamets cradling a dead Dr Culber, mumbling like an extra from “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest” about the forest and the trees, maybe the palace is in a forest? There is clearly a horticultural message the writers are trying to impress upon me and I am not getting it, is Tyler the wolf?
“Even the light is different, the cosmos has lost its brilliance.”
The bleakness of the mirror universe continues with forboding music and Burnham posing moodily in her Terran Empire standard issue lingerie, a completely necessary scene in my opinion. It is revealed that Saru, being an alien, is a slave in the MU and has to give Burnham a bath and a manicure.
Traitors to the Terran Empire are tried for malicious thoughts and beamed into space. All the pretending to be evil is getting Burnham down and she ponders the darkness within all of us, an obvious metaphor for the whole used to be a klingon thing her boyfriend’s going through. Her only confidante is Tyler and he is Burnham’s only light.
Tyler recalls things from his academy days showing what a thorough job the Klingons did in modifying him. Tilly contacts Burnham on a secure channel and explains that she cannot defeat the Terran firewall, Saru Prime tells her she has to think of a work around.
Saru conceals the truth about Culber in his transmission to Burnham as he doesn’t want to distract from her mission. The initial suspect for Culber’s murder is Stamets but Tilly says that it only happened because he has been altered by using the spore drive.
Nothing is as it appears in this iteration of Trek with altered bodies, the existence of the soul and body identity all being major themes of almost all of the episodes with the writers subtly exploring these issues with sensititivy.
We find out that “The Fire Wolf”, an awesome name, is the Klingon rebel leader and the emperor gives Burnham a mission to kill everyone who follows him. A long pre-credits scene (14 minutes) leaves us firmly entrenched in the mirror universe.
Lorca says that the means sometimes justify the terrible ends and tells Burnham to go ahead and kill the rebels but Burnham says they are a “coalition of hope.” A very tortured Lorca assents to Burnham’s plan to try and meet the Klingon rebel leader as she says it gives them the key to negotiate peace with the Klingons in their universe. It is at this point I said Fire Wolf is Voq and what happens when Tyler meets Voq?
Back on the Discovery Tilly reveals she has suspected for some time that Stamets has been able to glimpse into the alternative dimension prior to their arrival there. She says something about a Trans-dimensional portal to another universe is now in Stamet’s brain and his brain activity is keeping the portal open. They decide to put the spore network inside Stamets in a scene full of brilliant Treknobabble.
Burnham and Tyler beam down to the rebel base. We meet an Andorian and it is always fun to see this species in Star Trek. We then meet the Fire Wolf who is of course Voq and coming face to face with Voq has a strange effect on him. He has a flashback to his time as a Klingon and starts speaking Klingon and attacks mirror Voq.
Helping the rebels is the prophet, Master Sarek, and he performs a mind meld to establish whether Burnham’s offer to save the rebels is genuine. He sees she is from another universe and declares “she means us no harm.”
Sarek convinces Voq to not kill Tyler and Burnham and they go ahead with their plan to destroy the base minus the rebels.
Tilly’s fungal treatment of Stamets appears to be working but it turns to tragedy as he goes into cardiac arrest and appears to die.
Burnham confronts Tyler and he finally remembers he is Voq, which involves some pretty graphic flashbacks of his surgery. When Tyler turns back into Voq it is a truly chilling scene because he is fully Voq and it’s fully fracking terrifying. He shows us the wolf inside and his fundamentalist mission is starkly revealed.
Slave Saru saves Burnham on the verge of being choked by Ty-Voq and Tyler is sentenced to the Terran Empire’s version of walking the plank.
Stamets starts to move and the scene cuts to him meeting a version of himself in the much talked about forest. Burnham beams Voq into space briefly giving the impression she has killed him but in fact she beamed him away with the classified data upon his uniform and Saru beams him aboard the Discovery. He tells Voq that they are still members of Starfleet and he will face a tribunal.
Burnham consults with Lorca and he tells her they have to stay undercover for a bit longer in case Saru can’t decipher the data. At the close we have the shocking revelation that mirror Gheorgiou is the Terran Emperor. As Burnham bows to the Emperor Lorca has a smirk on his face. We see a lot come to fruition but not what Lorca’s endgame might be.
Phasers Set to “I need a Valium.”
Another exceedingly dark episode leaving me with the feeling that I might watch the Saw franchise to cheer myself up. Or failing that another episode featuring Data’s cat, or even one where Reg Barkley gets addicted to the hollow deck just for a mere morsel of hope. I know they are in the mirror universe and I know this is a federation before peace with the Klingons, so there is plenty of war, but there seems very little room for lightness in the last few episodes.
I maintain the writing is brilliant, the look of the show is great and the cast are knocking it out of the park but I would like a whole episode dedicated to Lorca being made to dress up as Friar Tuck by Q.
I enjoyed Sarek sporting a nice homage to mirror Spock with his natty goatee. It did make me think though, how come Mirror Sarek is good when Mirror Spock is evil?
Glenn McDorman of Lower Decks fame mentioned in the forum last week that it would be cool if the Emperor was Hoshi from Enterprise (which by the way would have been very cool) and I posited that it’s probably Gheorgiou, and lo and behold I called it. Glenn does that mean you owe me a pint of romulan ale next time we’re at Quarks?
Into the Woods Stamets Goes
There was some interesting chat in the forum last week about the Black Mirror episode USS Callister, which is excellent, with some people suggesting it would make a better Trek than Discovery. What’s interesting about this is the episode is partly a commentary on fandom. To me it spoke to the kind of fan that cannot accept that Captain Kirk isn’t played by William Shatner anymore.
Maybe we can’t accept this as we struggle to face up to our own mortality or the idea that things change. USS Callister gently mocks the stereotypes of old Trek yet a vocal minority want to bring this all back, a time when men were men and skirts were short. Charlie Brooker, the writer of Black Mirror, must be chuckling into his cornflakes.
I have mentioned several times my concern around the shows violence and its lack of hope but this is down to my personal taste. What the show defiantly always does is challenge me to think, which all great science fiction should do.
So friends what did you think? Is Stamets alive through the looking glass and what about those andorians? And is there anyway back for the Tyler personality? Join me in the Trek Talk forum if you want to duke it out.
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.