Star Trek Discovery: On the Ropes

Title: Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 14: “The War Within, The War Without”
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction
Platform: Streaming – CBS All Access
Director: David Solomon
Writer: Lisa Randolph
Rating: TV-14
Release: February 4, 2018
Cast: Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Jason Issacs, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman
Feature image: Source


“The truth is that I just couldn’t watch her die again, Saru. I wanted to offer her more.” Michael Burnham – Star Trek: Discovery

Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) is in the transporter room with Emperor Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh). She tries to shoot Commander Saru (Doug Jones) when he enters the room. Burnham stops her and explains that he is her Captain. Emperor Georgiou: “Yesterday, you dined on the entrails of his brethren and today, you seek his favor?” Though taken aback by this, Saru maintains his composure and orders her taken to guest quarters under guard. He tells the crewmember in the transporter room not to tell anyone about her presence under threat of treason. While walking down the hallway, Burnham tries to explain her actions. Burnham: “I could offer excuses. I was trying to destabilize the Terran Empire. I thought Starfleet could benefit from learning about an alternate universe. The truth is that I just couldn’t watch her die again, Saru. I wanted to offer her more.”  Saru understands; he receives a call from sickbay about Lt. Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif). He is awake. Saru hopes that Tyler seeing Burnham will indicate he is truly Ash Tyler. Burnham asks if this is an order, when Saru tells her it isn’t, she sadly says that she can’t see him.

The doctor can’t answer Saru’s question whether Tyler is Ash Tyler, but his readings show that he is human again. Saru talks to Tyler and he appears to be Ash Tyler again. He asks Tyler if he knows what the procedure that they did to him was. Tyler tells Saru that they flayed his skin off, they broke open his bones; they even cut his heart into pieces. He can access Voq’s memories, Voq submitted himself to brutal techniques to become human. Voq and L’Rell (Mary Chieffo) were in love and were the only true believers left. They hoped to capture the Discovery and use it to bring the Klingons back to T’Kuvma. Tyler feels guilty for killing Culber and trying to kill Burnham. Saru tells him that these acts were committed by Voq, he doesn’t blame him. He puts a bracelet on him to restrict his access on the ship but he assures Tyler that he won’t take away his freedom.

Back on the bridge, a Starfleet vessel heads their way, but the other vessel’s shields are up. A team from that ship boards the Discovery. After they gain control of the bridge, Admiral Cornwell (Jayne Brook) and Sarek (James Frain) beam aboard. He does a mind meld on Saru to confirm that he is Saru. Sarek can detect that the Discovery has been through an ordeal. They ask Saru where Lorca is. Saru: “Captain Lorca… is dead.”

“We are fodder for their feudal savagery. Our deaths, their spoils.” Sarek – Star Trek: Discovery

In the ready room, Cornwell blows up Lorca’s bowl of fortune cookies. She is surprised to hear that the Lorca who commanded this ship was from a mirror universe. Cornwell: “I couldn’t have imagined…” Sarek: “That Lorca was an imposter from an alternate universe was not the most… obvious conclusion.” They inform Saru and Burnham that Terran Lorca really screwed up Starfleet. Since the Discovery was gone, the leaderless Klingons have made indiscriminate attacks on Starfleet. Sarek: “We are fodder for their feudal savagery. Our deaths, their spoils.” They have captured 20% of Federation territory. The Admiral and Sarek agree that no one can know about the mirror universe. If people found out they could see a version of lost love ones in another dimension, they would try to go there. Saru and Burnham tell them one more thing. Sarek and Cornwell meet Emperor Georgiou. Sarek: “The resemblance is remarkable.” They can’t let anyone know about her, Georgiou isn’t happy about being a prisoner or not being able to go back home.

Lt. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) runs into Tyler in the hallway. Tyler to Stamets: “I would do anything to undo what I’ve done.” Stamets maintains his composure but you can see the fury in his eyes. Stamets: “You killed a good man. A man that I loved. Do you remember that?” Tyler: “I do now.” Stamets: “And does it gut you? Does it sicken you? Good. Maybe you’re still human after all.” Tyler goes to the dining hall where everyone silently stares at him. He sits down at a table alone; Cadet Sylvia Till (Mary Wiseman) joins him. Tyler: “You don’t have to do this. I’m OK.”  Tilly: “How could that possibly be true?” She tells him to eat and that he can talk if he wants too. Keyla Detmer (Emily Coutts) joins them and welcomes Tyler back. Soon other crewmembers come over to the table.

“It doesn’t. Klingons have tasted your blood. Conquer us, or we will never relent.” L’Rell – Star Trek: Discovery

The Discovery is heading to Starbase 1, which is one of the Federations last outposts. When they reach it, they find out that the Klingons have captured it and killed the 80,000 occupants. Admiral Cornwell is in shock, Saru gently asks for her orders. She tells them to speed away and to contact command, whatever is left of it. Cornwell leaves the bridge and goes to the brig to talk to L’Rell. She tells L’Rell that the Klingons are winning the war, but that they are leaderless and each house is competing against each other to conqueror as much territory and kill as many Federations citizens as possible. L’Rell: “This is war. Not a child’s game with rules.”  She asks L’Rell what the Klingons want. L’Rell tells her that T’Kuvma spoke about the Federation wanting to homogenize and assimilate the Klingon culture. Cornwell tells her that T’Kuvma was a fool to believe that. Cornwell: “How does this war end?”  L’Rell: “It doesn’t. Klingons have tasted your blood. Conquer us, or we will never relent.”

Burnham talks to Emperor Georgiou. Georgiou asks her why she brought her here. Burnham: “I wanted to show you a place of morality, of hope.” Emperor Georgiou: “Let me tell you, daughter-who-is-not-my-daughter, in truth, you wished to save me because you couldn’t save her. This regret that you have for what you did. It weakens you.” Burnham: “Well, I feel it every day of my life.” Burnham asks her how was she able to beat her Klingons. After being told, Burnham wakes up Cornwell to tell her. The Admiral is now in a conference call with what is left of command. She tells them that they need to attack the Klingon home world of Qo’nos to force the Klingons out of Federation territory. The rest of command wants to take all the remaining Starfleet forces to Earth to protect it. They tell Cornwell that no one from the Federation has been there since Captain Archer nearly a century ago. Sarek advises them that it is illogical to fight the Klingons the same way when it isn’t working. We have to assume they agree with him, because in the next scene Cornwell meets with the crew, to tell them they have to map Qo’nos so they can attack it. The Discovery won’t be jumping to Qo’nos, but they have to jump into Qo’nos, into their subterranean caves that lie just under the surface. The Discovery will map the locations of the Klingon weaponry and defenses. Saru: “Jumping a massive starship inside a cave of impenetrable rock does seem… challenging.” Lt. Stamets needs to grow more spores so that they can use the mycelium network to make the jump into Qo’nos.

Emperor Georgiou calls for Sarek. She tells him that she can help them defeat the Klingons, but what they have to do is more than Burnham can handle. That is why she wants to talk to him. Sarek: “What do you know of your counterpart, Captain Philippa Georgiou?”  Emperor Georgiou: “I know that she is dead and I am not. But I will leave you to determine which of us has proved stronger.”  Now they discuss their ‘daughters’. Emperor Georgiou: “My daughter was a singular example of brilliance until one foolish choice doomed her world. Sound familiar?”
Sarek: “If I understand correctly, my ward saw through the man who brought down, not just your child, but your empire. Perhaps best not to make comparisons.” [My kid is better than your kid is.] Georgiou will give them her help for her freedom.

“What we do now, the way that we treat him, that is who he’ll become.” Sylvia Tilly – Star Trek: Discovery

Sarek is ready to head back to Vulcan to take care of matters. He stops to talk to his daughter. Burnham: “I’ve made foolish choices. Emotional choices.”  Sarek: “Well, you are human. As is your mother.” He continues, “There is irony here, of course. The man you fell in love with was a Klingon…. There is also grace. For what greater source of peace exists than our ability to love our enemy.” Sarek says goodbye to Burnham and reminds her that since they are in the middle of a war, logic says it could be their last. Burnham meets Tilly in the lab and tells her she could sense something with her father. Tilly: “Did you think signing up for Starfleet; you’d be forced to see war and death? I didn’t. Does that make me naive?” Burnham: “It makes you optimistic.” Tilly tells Burnham that she thinks that Burnham should talk to Tyler. Burnham: “He killed a Starfleet officer. And he tried to kill me.” Tilly: “And those crimes are reprehensible. But Tyler is not the person who did that. At least, he’s not anymore. He’s something other. Someone new. What we do now, the way that we treat him, that is who he’ll become. I know you still care about him.” Burnham: “I do. But that does not mean that I should.” Tilly advises her to talk to him if only to say goodbye.

To grow a new crop of spores so that they can use the spore jump for the mission, they head to a barren moon so that they can terraform it to grow spores. In a very cool scene, the Discovery sends probes to terraform and plant the seeds to grow the spores. “Come on, kiddos,” Stamets tells his spores on the moon. The terraforming works and spores quickly cover the moon. After finally seeing something good happen, Burnham decides to talk to Tyler. When she walks in the room, he heads towards her but she flinches.  “We created something beautiful today in a desolate wasteland that had never seen life,” she tells him. She informs him that their relationship is over, she doesn’t know if they even had one. Tyler doesn’t accept this gracefully, “You finally went there with someone, and things got complicated.”  Burnham reminds him, “I felt your hands around my neck, I looked into your eyes, and I saw how much you wanted to kill me.” He says it wasn’t him, but for her that is something she can’t forget. He tells her that he needs her to work through his trauma. Burnham: “I had to work through it. I had to crawl my way back. I’m still not there, but I’m trying. That kind of work, reclaiming life, it’s punishing. And it’s relentless. And it’s solitary.” He sadly gets the message.

Sarek and Cornwell hold a secret conversation over space communications; they have to implement their plan. Stamets has the spores to make the jump. Cornwell speaks to the entire crew about their mission, and then she introduces the person who will be leading the mission. Out walks Captain Philippa Georgiou, who Cornwell claims that they rescued from Klingon captivity. Burnham and Saru are in shock, especially since they know who she actually is. Georgiou tells Burnham that she hopes that they can work together despite their differences.

Has motherf’ing Starfleet lost their motherf’ing minds? They just traded one Terran for another Terran to command the Discovery. Don’t they realize that didn’t work out that well for them before? I know that they are desperate, but come on! It should be fun with Emperor Georgiou leading the mission, don’t be surprised if Burnham leads her second mutiny, with Saru’s help this time.

The pace was a little slower this time, allowing the episode to do more character studies. We finally got to see some reactions to all the events that have happened to them. Admiral Cornwell is at her wits end. For the past nine months, she has seen Starfleet get their arse handed to them by the Klingons, and now finds out that the lunatic she slept with wasn’t her friend Captain Lorca, but Terran Lorca, who was nothing like prime Lorca. Everything she thought she knew about the universe is shattered. It would make her susceptible to Emperor Georgiou. The war’s loses have affected Sarek as well. He forcefully did a mind meld on Saru, and he has gone along with Georgiou’s plan. This isn’t logical. [Maybe that is why Burnham is so illogical.] The prime universe is looking a lot like the mirror one. We also had a reminder of the pain Stamets is going through when he runs into Tyler. You have to admire his composure, because even though he knows Tyler isn’t responsible for killing Culber, it was still his hands, which did it. I like that Tilly and the rest of the crew understand this and show Tyler compassion. That seems like a very Starfleet thing to do. Burnham isn’t in a forgiving mood though, and you can’t blame her. Like Stamets, she knows Tyler wasn’t the one trying to kill her, but it was his hands around her neck. Moreover, the part of himself that was Tyler lied to her about letting her know if he loses control again. Good for Burnham from removing herself from this toxic relationship and letting Tyler do the work to heal himself. Aside from Cornwell, we still haven’t gotten much of a reaction from the crew about having an impostor as their Captain. I wonder how they will feel when they find out it is happening again.

There wasn’t a lot of action, but the acting performances from the cast were strong, especially from Sonequa Martin-Green. She really makes you feel for a problematic character like Burnham. The writers went out of their way to make her an unsympathetic character, but Ms. Martin-Green has done a good job of making her sympathetic when given the chance. Shazad Latif was also strong this episode, and both actors made you feel the pain of their breakup. The next episode is the season finale. With the Emperor in charge, who knows what is going to happen.

Grade: B+









Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Editor-in-Chief
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