Tuesday, 27 March 2018


1-14) "The War Within, the War Without"
1-15) "Will You Take My Hand?"

Date: 2257, nine months since Discovery vanished into the Mirror Universe.

The Mission: Save the Federation from the Klingon hordes by blowing up their homeworld. How utopian.

Planets visited: 

Kronos: The Klingon homeworld is comprised of a network of huge volcanic caverns, "a planet of cave." Rather implausibly, some of these caverns are big enough to hide a starship in. The dense, green upper atmosphere prevents long-range scans of the surface. There's an area of the planet that has been given to the Orions as a sort of embassy, but it's more of a downtown slum for offworlders, built on top of ancient shrines to the tyrant Molor, which access the volcanic channels beneath the surface. Humans can pass there, although it doesn't go unremarked upon. Food available on the streets includes barbecued Ceti eels and gormangander flesh. The currency on the planet is the darsek.

Delta 2: A desolate, uninhabited class-4 moon in the Veda system. The Disco crew terraform it (very rapidly) using mycelial spores, to help power their spore drive.

Earth: Spacedock is currently in construction in orbit. The Federation president is based in Paris (as in the 24th century). A ragtag Klingon fleet is headed to Earth with conquest or extermination on its agenda.

Future History: No human has visited Kronos since Archer and the Enterprise NX-01 "almost a hundred years ago." (ENT: "Broken Bow" was actually 106 years earlier, so either this is a small inaccuracy or Archer took his ship there again during the Romulan War period).

In the time since Discovery went missing, the Klingons have conquered 20% of Federation space. They wiped out Kelfor 6 by igniting its atmosphere, destroyed Starbases 9 and 12 and the USS Saratoga and then took out a third of the fleet. Planets they've attacked include Nervala, Septra and Iridon, all of which were decimated.

All knowledge of the Mirror Universe is classified, on pain of charges of treason. This explains why Kirk didn't know anything about before being zapped there ten years later. (Obviously it is declassified some time between then and Deep Space Nine over a century later.) The idea of a parallel universe where those lost in the war might still survive is considered too dangerous to allow to spread. (It probably wouldn't be good for Federation unity if the existence of a dominating human empire got out, either.)

Taking the Michael: She's good at giving speeches. She can think of several reasons to rationalise saving the Emperor, but admits that she just couldn't watch Georgiou die again. Understandably, she finds it hard to see Tyler again after he tried to kill her. Possibly she distrusts him because, in Tyler's words, "Klingons killed (her) parents and then (she) fell in love with one," but really, it's hard to see how she could trust him after that. In time, she learns to see him for who he is and comes to terms with what's happened between them. She's still reclaiming her life after the Battle of the Binary Stars and can't handle even more heartache. She's still guilty for making her parents stay at Doctari Alpha to see a supernova, and the details of what the Klingons did to them are pretty horrific. The sound of Klingons laughing takes her right back there and she has to get out. However, seeing people just living their lives on Kronos stops her hating the Klingons. She gives the bomb to L'Rell to prevent a genocide and give the Klingons another way to end the war. For ending the war without compromising Federation ideals, she receives a pardon from the president and regains her rank of commander.

Space Cow: He's acting captain of the Discovery in the absence of a more senior officer. He's not happy about Burnham lying to him about the presence of Kelpiens in the Mirror Universe, but he gets that she didn't want to upset him by telling him that Terrans like to eat his people. He has regained his respect of Burnham. He recognises that Tyler is not Voq and allows him to walk free. He's got the balls to square up to Georgiou when she's practically threatening to kill and eat him. He's the first Kelpien to receive the Starfleet Medal of Honour.

Half Man, Half Klingon: Tyler is now fully Tyler after some emergency neurological surgery, but he still remembers being Voq and everything from his life, which comes in handy. In all respects, he gets off pretty lightly after his actions as Voq/Tyler, and is accepted back by most of the crew very quickly. He is obviously an asset on the Klingon homeworld, being able to speak Klingon (which the natives find funny) and hold his own in a game called "Obliterate Them." He says that Burnham's love saved his life, and says that he chose humanity over the Klingons because they can feel compassion and sympathy for their enemies. Once they've completed the mission he leaves with L'Rell to bridge the gap between the Federation and the Empire.

Vulcan Dad: Worryingly ready to advocate Klingon genocide. On the other hand, he thinks no one should regret loving someone, which is about as soppy and sentimental as a Vulcan gets.He also says he never gets tired of seeing his home planet.

Starfleet's Best? Cornwell takes the Discovery, flanked by Andorian and Tellarite guards, expecting some kind of Klingon trap. She takes command immediately and is quick to agree to take the fight to the Klingons. She interrogates L'Rell and comes away with the conclusion that the only way forward is to take the Klingons out, to the point where she advocates genocide. She's also severely pissed at Lorca's true identity. She's also pretty damned stupid if she thinks she can trust Georgiou to do anything she says.

We love Tilly: Breaks the ice by going to eat with Tyler, which helps other crewmen come round. She helps Burnham come to terms with things and go speak to Tyler. She wasn't expecting a wartime career, and considers her Mirror self's actions pretty horrifying, which makes her all the more determined to do right by people in this universe. She's starstruck by Georgiou until she realises she's the evil version. On Kronos she's able to play the hardass part pretty well until she's too out of her element, and gets high on volcanic fumes. After the success of the mission, she is accepted into teh command programme. She's never been to Vulcan before.

Captain Killy: Tilly's evil Mirror counterpart subjugated the Betazoids and wiped out the people of Mintaka III (q.v. TNG: "Who Watches the Watchers") which is pretty harsh, considering they only have hoes to defend themselves with.

Spores, Molds and Fungi: Unsurprisingly, Stamets is coldly furious when he meets Tyler. When he asks if the guilt of Culber's murder is tearing him up, he is pleased, saying "Maybe you're still human after all." He can navigate the spore drive so well by now that he can easily tell the difference between solid rock and a cave just from the feel of it and can jump the ship right into a cavern.

Evil Philippa: Spends a fair bit of time bitching with Sarek over whose version of Burnham is best. After initially demanding to go back to her own universe, she takes her place as captain of Discovery, pretending to be MIA Captain Georgiou who isn't dead at all, honest, no siree. She is completely incapable of pretending to be a balanced Federation captain, gets angry when Detmer calls Kronos the Klingon homeworld (because animals apparently don't have homes) and looks about ready to stab anyone who questions her. She beats the crap out of a bound L'Rell, mostly just for the fun of it. She was born and raised on Pulau Langkawi in Malaysia (Michelle Yeoh is from Ipoh, inland and further south, but Ipoh's a bit of a dump to be frank). Burnham lets her go, and she is later approached by Section 31 (in an extra scene).

Alien Life Forms: 

Klingons: Yes, it's true: Klingons have two dicks. They also have higher muscular density and mitochondrial activity than humans. The Species Reassignment Protocol that was tested on Voq involved flaying his skin, cracking his bones, cutting up his heart and sanding down his fingertips, all while conscious, because Klingons. (So Arne Darvin is much harder than we ever thought.)

L'Rell admires human courage after her interactions with Cornwell and the Discovery crew but is still fully in support of a powerful unified Klingon Empire. She is saddened by the fact that the Houses have broken apart again. She uses the threat of the hydrobomb to blackmail the Houses to reunifying the Empire, leaving her as ruler and potentially having huge consequences down the line.

In the Mirror Universe, Kronos was annihilated by Starfleet and the Klingons reduced to scattered exclaves.

Orions: A whole bunch of them live in the "embassy" area on Kronos, doing the usual Orion criminal activities. Some of them are surprisingly up on ancient Klingon cults and their stomping grounds. Refreshingly, after the big redesign of the Klingons and the lesser redesigns of the Andorians and Tellarites, the Orions are portrayed by people painted green. More of a pale fern green than the usual bold leaf green.

Trill: There are Trills in the Orion town on Kronos (although at least one of them is a fake).

Starships and Space Stations: 

USS Discovery NCC-1031: The first thing the crew do when back in the Prime Universe, even before starting repairs, is repaint the ship to Federation standards. The ship swapped places with its Mirror equivalent, which was destroyed by Klingons almost immediately. The Discovery's cloak-breaking algorithm is distributed to the fleet as soon as Cornwell takes command but it's probably too late to make a difference.

USS Enterprise NCC-1701: Shows up at the end of the final episode, transmitting a distress signal and under the command of Captain Pike. It looks rather different to how we remember it - still the same general shape, but redesigned to fit in with Star Trek: Discovery's aesthetic. I actually really like it.

Starbase 1: In Earth's backyard, Starbase 1 is home to dozens of starships and thousands of Federation personnel. Now it boasts only a few hundred Klingon life signs, and has been tagged by House D'Kor.

Future Treknology: The drone carries a hydrobomb which causes an enormous buildup of steam when dropped into the volcanic network, which will explode out through the crust of the planet annihilating the atmosphere and rendering it uninhabitable. Lorca collected some Nausicaan disruptors which the away team use to start a trade with the Orions.

Trek Stars: Clint Howard, who plays the creepy old Orion bastard in the final episode, has the distinction of being the actor with the longest Star Trek career. His initial appearance, as creepy young child-alien Balok in TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver" was in 1966, a whole 51 years before this episode. Howard also appeared as a human in 1995 (DS9: "Past Tense"), and a Ferengi in 2002 (ENT: "Acquisition").

Sexy Trek: Like all evil parallel universe women, Emperor Georgiou is bisexual, and gets it on with a pair of Orion prostitutes. There's a lot more skin on display than we're used to in Trek, most of it green. Did I mention that Klingons have two dicks? No wonder Worf was so popular with the ladies.

Space bilge: Starbase 1 is 100 AU from Earth and is now under Klingon control. This would put the Starbase at the fringes of our solar system - this should mean the Earth is under imminent threat from the Klingons, rather than being treated as a distant outpost. It's also shown as being in orbit of a class-M planet, and there's definitely nothing of the sort that close to Earth. The Starbase is also described as being over a light year away from the Discovery, which makes it extremely close in starship terms and by no means a chore to warp to.

L'Rell is very easily able to convince the Klingon Houses that she can destroy the planet with what appears to be a generic remote control and no way to back up her claim that it's linked to a massive bomb.

Quote, Unquote: "Logic dictates that each farewell may be our last." True of all times, not just war.

The Review: A very satisfying end to an uneven but exciting first season. The first half drags a little but gives way to a second part that ups the ante, although it does end rather quickly and neatly. It's entirely reasonable to see the Federation's leaders get desperate enough to resort to genocide against the Klingons - they are potentially facing the same themselves - but it's also tremendously disappointing. Thankfully, the script doesn't for one moment side with this idea and makes it clear that there has to be another way. Burnham has developed into a more comfortable, more confident character, back to the self-assurance she had in the opening episodes. Rather than a complete reversal of her decision to square up to the Klingons there, her decision to use the bomb to force the Houses' to end the war is using the Klingon ethos of "might is right" in a mindful way. (Albeit via L'Rell, which could come back to bite her.) It's also wonderful that, after the script going out of its way to remind us just how bloody awful the Klingons are in this series, Burnham manages to look past her experiences and recognise that most of the Klingons are just people living their lives. It's even better that she sees this after spending an evening surrounded by crims and gamblers, instead of the best of society.

Tyler's story comes to a satisfying conclusion, although it will still be fascinating to see how he develops in the coming season. Saru and Culber get good moments but are a little overlooked, yet it's hard to complain when we get so much quality Tilly time.

The appearance of the Enterprise at the end was an obvious way to round out the series, but what else could they do? It was inevitable, but it was nicely staged and personally I love the redesigned version of the iconic ship, certainly more than the recent movie version. Ending the episode on the classic theme was a nice touch as well. On the other hand, it's becoming increasingly hard to reconcile this wartorn 23rd century with the timeline we know. I'm intrigued to see how the events here develop in the second season.

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