TL;DR – Trapped in the Mirror Universe, old friends appear, and secrets are revealed … oh and an Andorian
Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars
So before we start, because this is Part 2 I want to be clear from the start that there will be [SPOILERS] from both last week’s Despite Yourself (see review) and this week’s The Wolf Inside in this review. As well as this, because there are some big reveals that we have to talk about, if you have not watched the episode can I really recommend that you do that before you read this review.
So to set the scene, at the end of Despite Yourself the USS Discovery is still stuck in the Mirror Universe. This is a big problem because they have the schematics for the Klingon cloaking device, and while they are stuck here The Federation is still losing the war. But while this the big pressing problem, it is not the most important one because Ash Taylor (Shazad Latif) is not Ash Taylor, he is a Klingon that was altered to look Human by L’Rell (Mary Chieffo) with the Ash personality on top. Which was really bad news for Culber (Wilson Cruz) because when he found out Ash snapped his neck, and as we open this episode the heart-breaking reveal that Culber is indeed dead as he is found in the hands of partner Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp). So Michael (Sonequa Martin-Green) is trapped on a Terran Empire starship pretending to be her Mirror Universe counterpart with an undercover Klingon spy whose overlaying personality is starting to fall apart, or maybe merge with the Klingon one people. So not a great place to be, and things are about to get worse for everyone, oh and before I forget Lorca (Jason Isaacs) is still stuck in the agony booth.
It is funny that the first thing I thought about when watching this episode was First Contact, the flickering lights, the crewmember trying to fix a faulty system away from everyone else. It distracted me for a moment, because of course, the Borg were not on board, but then the weight of what was happening dawned as the crewman came across the dead body of Culber. Even though I knew it was an irrational part of me, at the end of last week’s episode I wondered if maybe he could be still alive if they had found him in sickbay, but that was not the case. It is a testament to the writers and actors, that I feel a deep sense of loss for someone only 10 episodes into a new series.
In many respects this was an episode that was surrounded by the concept of death, yes we have Culber’s actual death but it goes much further than that. For Michael, her main problem in this episode is how to live in a world where death is almost a casual thing and the only reason you would not kill someone is if you wanted to take your time and torture them first. So you are stuck undercover and you need to blend in, but every act of blending intakes you further and further away from who your true self is, and is there a point when you go too far to come back. There is this fascinating scene between her and Lorca where he gives her ‘the ends justify the means’ speech leaning down on that old consequentialism adage to justify them surviving in this new world, well she is not having a single bar of that rationale because ‘the means’ are killing a lot of people. We also see death with the death … sort of … in Ash’s personality as it is slowly absorbed/replaced/merged with Voq’. There is a deep sadness as Ash desperately tries to keep control as the world starts falling around him, but while L’Rell’s code didn’t wake Voq up right away he is coming.
Now, this is a great time to talk about our two Klingons on the show Ash and L’Rell. I first had suspicions about Ash and Voq being the same character last week but I had no idea they were played by the same actor. Part of that might have been that they created a twitter account whom I have been talking to for the fake actor, which was named after Shazad Latif’s father, so I just think my brain didn’t make the connection. Of course, the other part of it is because Shazad Latif is an amazing actor that can play two very different roles with different motivations and I just didn’t think they were the same person. Now, the immense prosthetics probably didn’t hurt either. But, of all the growing plot threads I am fascinated to see where they go with this character, how are the two personalities going to play with each other, is Ash lost, was he even alive, to begin with. This leads us to L’Rell who is fast becoming one of the more interesting antagonists that Star Trek has had. For me, the best antagonists, which are characters with motivations that might not align with the Federation, in the show are Garak and Weyoun. They are characters with deep complexity, and so it is fascinating to see them work. L’Rell is exactly the same because her presence was felt across this episode, even though she does not appear in it bar some previous footage. Though I can’t wait to see her expression when she sees Ash in next week’s episode, which I will assume we will see after panning across the ship and zooming in through a window.
While this was an episode about Klingon subterfuge, it was also an episode about the Mirror Universe and the ethical nightmare of working within that scenario. Michael is stuck with multiple problems, she needs to stay undercover so that means not stopping the mass execution of some of the crew. As well as this, she has to find a way to smuggle the information about the USS Defiant off the ship, and also deal with rebels without killing them. It is this last problem that is causing the most consignation because the rebels are an alliance of Klingons, Andorians, Tellarites and others. Her duty to the Emperor is to kill them all, but she does not want to be the one to kill the most Federation like organisation in the Mirror Universe. This leads to a couple of things, first, we get to see the before mentioned Andorians and Tellarites, and well that just made the fan inside me so happy. It also leads to Michael getting a father/daughter moment with the Mirror Sarak (James Frain) in a way she is likely never to get from her adoptive father in real life. All of this leads to two very important moments, the decision to spare Ash’s life, and the discovery of who the Emperor is. Sparing’s Ash’s life is interesting because that is going to deeply complicate the Michael-Ash-Voq-L’Rell dynamic. This also leads to a wonderful speech by Saru (Doug Jones) that really encapsulates what Starfleet and the Federation are all about. This speech is important because the undercurrent of this episode is ‘There, but for the grace of God, go I’ The Federation could have very easily been The Terran Empire if history had moved in different directions, if humans dwelt on their more unpleasant character traits. So you know, not at all relevant to the world today. What was also interesting about this section is that I found myself forgetting that Michael is not the First Officer of the ship, indeed she does not even have a rank, but she feels like the first officer.
So this episode ends on two important details, the Emperor of the Terran Empire is the mirror version of Michael’s old captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) and our Stamets and the Mirror Universe Starmets have met up in the forest. Will next week be our last episode in the Mirror Universe? I don’t know, but this has been a fascinating look at a different world and I feel that this time away is going to have drastic consequences on the rest of the season.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
Have you seen Star Trek Discovery yet?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Star Trek Discovery
Directed by – TJ Scott
Written by – Lisa Randolph
Based off – Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry
Created by – Bryan Fuller & Alex Kurtzman
Starring in Season 1 – Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman & Jason Isaacs with Michelle Yeoh, James Frain, Jayne Brook, Chris Obi, Mary Chieffo, Rainn Wilson, Kenneth Mitchell, Rekha Sharma, Damon Runyan, Clare McConnell & Wilson Cruz