Andi, but imagine it being read by Majel Barrett: Previously on Star Trek: Discovery: Saru (Doug Jones) mashed enough buttons on his computer for the crew to figure out they’d fallen into an evil parallel universe, Tilly (Mary Wiseman) cosplayed her evil counterpart and made everyone simultaneously frightened and aroused, Stamets (Anthony Rapp) continued to ominously ramble what seemed like nonsense, Tyler (Shazad Latif) confronted L’Rell (Mary Chieffo) and then promptly lost his shit, leading him to snap Culber’s (Wilson Cruz) neck when the doctor got too close to figuring out his Klingon-y deal, and Lorca (Jason Isaacs) and Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) decided the easiest way to get out of said universe was to take over their mirror identities, sneak onto a hostile ship, steal their data on a different ship that fell into that universe and then somehow translate that data into a workable plan to get home. Simple!
Jarrah, but imagine the rest of this being read by, I dunno, Patrick Stewart?: Thank you, Andi.
Soooooo, we’re back on Discovery at the opening of this episode, where a young woman engineer is fixing a lighting issue, which begs the question: “How many Discovery crew does it take to screw in a lightbulb?” And the answer is: “One, but she probably shouldn’t do it because then she’ll see Stamets sitting on the Sickbay floor, lovingly holding Culber’s dead body in his arms and muttering about the forest and the dark.”
Jarrah’s inside voice: Nooooooo, stop hurting my space boos. I do not want to be reminded of this. When is this part going to be sci-fi-magicked away? ICYMI, see Andi’s post from last week, because I am too tired to talk about this.
Jarrah: Um, sorry about that. So anyway, meanwhile on the Shenzhou, Burnham is not into the Mirror Universe because it looks weird, she has to transport criminals into space, and she cannot get used to Mirror Saru giving her baths. She’s got the encrypted data on the USS Defiant and wants to go home. But before she can figure out how, the Imperial Flagship orders her to destroy the base of the Fire Wolf, the Klingon leader of the resistance against the Terran Empire.
Despite Burnham’s fears that she could lose herself in her role, she does not feel super great about blowing up a planet, and instead sees an opportunity to learn from the Mirror Klingons. Despite a similar honor code as the Prime Klingons, Fire Wolf has managed to not only unite his own people, but join with the Andorians, Vulcans and Tellarites. They’re almost more Federation than the Federation!
Burnham goes to Lorca, who’s been in the 1980s dance party/agonizer booth for a good while.
He’s basically like, “No, you gotta blow up the planet.” But Burnham calmly suggests maybe his torture is messing with his judgment a little. So he goes, “Ok fine but don’t take anyone except Tyler.”
Alongside this storyline we see that back on Discovery, Stamets is suspected of killing Culber which is why no one has thought of warning Burnham about Tyler. We also see Tilly determined to use her science and engineering knowhow to wake Stamets. Playing Captain Killy last week seems to have given Tilly newfound confidence. She insists Saru let her treat Stamets, impresses him with her knowledge of Stamets’ theories, and even needles him to recommend her to a Starfleet command program when they’re back.
We also see I have the same shoes as Stamets. New #cosplaygoals!
Burnham and Tyler go down to meet the Fire Wolf, who is…..Voq.
A slightly bigger surprise is that he works with a Vulcan called “The Prophet” and this guy mind-melds with Burnham to verify that she means Voq and his gang no harm. If you’ve been sitting there since last episode thinking, “Hey Star Trek, this is the Mirror Universe, so where are the goatees?”, Star Trek has finally answered. Star Trek adds, “Also Lorca’s tribble is basically 100% goatee, so there.”
Mirror Sarek sees that Burnham is not from their universe but can’t really figure out how. Anyway, he trusts her, so Voq does, but Tyler is starting to freak out seeing his Mirror self. He finally becomes unable to deny that he is a Klingon, and tries to kill Mirror Voq for fraternizing with all these other alien species.
And thus was revealed the worst-kept Trek secret since William Shatner’s hairpiece. Luckily Burnham and Mirror Sarek persuade Mirror Voq he needs to let them go and evacuate the planet. In exchange for his safety, he agrees to give Burnham his copy of How To Make Friends and Influence People…In Space. Yay hope for peace and intergalactic cooperation!
Anywho, Tilly is trying spore therapy on Stamets, and he appears to be responding, but when Stamets’ heart stops, Saru halts her work and calls in the medics, who appear to be unable to save him. The medics and Saru leave Tilly some space to talk to her presumably dead boss, because good drama. Regrets, Tilly has a few, but then again, as she says them, Stamets stirs! In his spore mind, we see him encounter Mirror Stamets, who says it’s time for the two of them to get to work.
The episode wraps up on the Shenzhou. First, Burnham confronts Tyler in her quarters, and he goes full-Voq and tries to strangle her after he remembers her killing T’Kuvma. She’s saved by Mirror Saru, and her crew prepare to transport Tyler into space for his betrayal.
Then she actually does transport him into space! For a very small period of time (Sue’s Science Corner says: “You could survive about 15 seconds in the vacuum of space before passing out from lack of oxygen.” The More You Know!) before he is quickly transported aboard the Discovery into Prime Saru’s custody. On his person Burnham has placed the chip with the data about the Defiant.
Lorca still advises Burnham not to go back to Discovery yet, in case…things. While they’re talking, another Terran Empire ship appears and starts blasting the planet below, before Voq and his people have all had time to evacuate.
That ship belongs to the Emperor, who we learn is none other than Georgiou, and she is none too happy with Burnham for disobeying orders.
— Ted Sullivan (@karterhol) January 16, 2018
Overall this episode felt like it missed opportunities for humor (as compared to the last one, which had low lows, but also some delightful moments arising from our characters having to take on their counterparts’ identities.
The best moments in this episode belonged squarely to Sonequa Martin-Green. Her portrayal of Burnham is masterful as the character struggles with the pressures of Mirror command and hopes for peace in both universes; as she shows compassion for Saru, quiet determination with Lorca, agony and confusion at Tyler’s betrayal, and shock and fear at seeing Emperor Georgiou.
As for Emperor Georgiou, I’m thrilled to see Michelle Yeoh back and I’m excited to see more of her in this role, but one of our Women at Warp Twitter followers made a good point that I wanted to include about a problematic pattern in the Trek Mirror Universe, when you add Disco’s Mirror U to those DS9 and Enterprise:
As much as I love our badass Trek ladies in charge, it bugs me that there’s a female leader in every mirror universe. This supports the narrative that all women in power are evil and untrustworthy, a tale so strong that elections were lost over it. #Discovery @WomenAtWarp
— Valerie Maus (@OhMySpaceSailor) January 16, 2018
She adds that showing Burnham keeping Tyler as a kind of “Captain’s man” (or presumably that’s how the rest of the ISS Shenzhou crew see it, reinforces the connection between women’s villainy and their sexuality. Anyway, food for thought.
Jarrah’s inside voice: Is it wrong that I kind of want to make out with Mirror Sarek? Something about that goatee… Mmmm