At this point, I don’t even know why Starfleet even gives Lorca orders. He always disobeys and always succeeds.
This episode is a worthy mid-season finale. There’s a lot more hints and clues at what’s really going on with Lorca, Ash Tyler, and L’Reill. And the end of the episode is the best cliffhanger of the season!
We are currently looking for full-time writing jobs! If you enjoy this blog and are looking for someone to write content for you or your company, contact us at [email protected]
Full episode gallery
The episode begins with Lorca disobeying yet another command from a Starfleet admiral. He is ordered to leave Pahvo and get back behind Federation lines with all the other Starfleet warships. Lorca pretends to obey but uses regular warp speed, which is the USS Discovery’s equivalent of a toddler’s reluctant walk at bedtime.
Lorca needs to have a reason for this slowness for when the admiral inevitably yells at him again. So he sends Stamets to sick bay to be fully examined. This makes Stamets uneasy, because he is unwell but has only told Tilly. Now it might come out and ruin everything.
Michael and Saru attack the cloaking problem. They propose demystifying the cloaking technology with a radical strategy: board the Klingon Ship of the Dead and place sensors to relay the necessary data.
Stamets is sick but Lorca doesn’t care
Lorca checks on Stamets but finds he has an actual problem with his brain. His white matter is being reconstructed in ways no one understands. Lorca asks that the findings be sent directly to him. He got a little more than he bargained with an legitimately ill Stamets, but I can’t see that stopping him for a second. And of course, it doesn’t.
Lorca instead begins convincing Stamets to do more than he ever has before: more than 100 micro-jumps. Stamets objects weakly. Lorca shows him data he’s been collecting from each spore-drive jump. The data shows that there may be (translation: definitely are) gateways to alternate universes through the mycelial network. Score another point for the theory that this Lorca is from another universe.
Stamets is touched by Lorca caring about scientific discoveries. This is a mistake. Lorca doesn’t care about science, he cares about killing Klingons. He is a master manipulator, as we saw with Admiral Cornwell and how he fooled expert psychiatrists about his state of mind.
Lorca is starting to show his hand
I doubt he wanted to show Stamets this data. To someone less blinded by the scientific awe and wonder than Stamets, it raises a ton of questions. How did he know to collect this data? He’s no scientist, but somehow he happened to make the greatest scientific discovery of all time? I wonder how Michael will react when she learns about this.
Michael proposes she board the Klingon ship since she has been on the bridge of the Ship of the Dead. Lorca is very reluctant but has no real reason to say no, and gives in.
Stamets prepares for his insane number of spore drive jumps. Hugh feels betrayed Stamets didn’t tell him he was sick, but insists that Stamets wear a medical device on his arm and neck so he can be treated without leaving the chamber.
The Ship of the Dead and Discovery finally meet
The Ship of the Dead reaches Pahvo. The Discovery warps back instantly using the spore drive and sits tantalizingly in front of General Kol’s ship. Kol can’t resist the Discovery’s vulnerable position and decloaks the Ship of the Dead to bring his weapons online.
Tyler and Michael beam aboard the Ship of the Dead. They are outfitted with special tech to mask their human life signs as Klingon. They successfully place the first of their sensors and start toward the bridge of the Klingon ship. Michael discovers a human’s life signs while monitoring their own.
Michael insists they rescue the prisoner. Ash gives in. You’d think he’d be the first to suggest a rescue given that he was tortured for 7 months. I’ve been suspicious of this guy from the beginning and they keep dropping clues that something about Ash is… off.
Cornwell is alive!
They find the human prisoner: Admiral Cornwell. She’s alive, but her legs are paralyzed. Tyler comes face to face with L’Reill and immediately is incapacitated by PTSD, or something worse. She tortured him for months, so it makes perfect sense.
Michael leaves Cornwell guarding him and finishes the mission on her own, placing the second sensor. Lorca has been stalling Kol to give Michael and Ash time to place the sensors, limiting the battle mostly to running and dodging his attacks, but now the real mission can begin. The Discovery jumps, shoots, jumps, shoots, and jumps again.
The Ship of the Dead is rocked by explosions, and Kol activates its invisibility cloak as per Michael and Saru’s plan. The Discovery jumps so fast there’s barely a pause. Stamets is being pushed to his limits as the Discovery takes the sensor readings from all the angles necessary to understand the cloaking frequency.
“That’s how they go”
Hugh demands they stop the jumps as they take an increasingly heavy toll on Stamets. Stamets has started saying cryptic things like, “There’s a clearing in the forest. That’s how they go.” Lorca denies the demand and says he must do whatever is necessary to keep Stamets alive through the end of the jumps.
Michael is on the bridge, using her translator on the Klingons so we hear them speak in English. This is a clever way to break from the normally slow Klingon dialogue and make things faster and easier for the viewer. They overlay some guttural Klingon sounds into their translated speech so you don’t forget you’re still listening to an alien language.
The Klingons have discovered Ash’s sabotage and entry into the room holding Admiral Cornwell and L’Reill, but they assume it was L’Reill escaping. Kol, toying with Captain Georgiou’s Starfleet insignia, commands his minions find L’Reill and cut off her legs.
Michael fights another Klingon leader
But Kol has become frustrated and suspicious of the Discovery’s strange behavior. He decides to warp away. If he does so, the Discovery’s readings of the ship’s cloaking will be incomplete and useless. Michael reacts without a pause, shooting two guards and revealing herself to stall Kol. He takes the bait and Kol starts talking instead of warping out of reach. Michael puts down her phaser.
Michael goads Kol. She says there is no honor in taking a ship not his own, and the place of a warrior he did not kill. She reveals that she killed T’Kuvma. Kol isn’t bothered, and thanks her for killing T’Kuvma and creating the power vacuum he needed to rise to power. Michae; challenges him to single combat. Kol mockingly slaps Georgiou’s insignia on his chest and accepts her challenge.
As they fight with Klingon blades, the Discovery finishes the jumps needed to collect the data on the cloaking device. Three minutes are still needed to compute the data into something they can use to see the cloaked Ship of the Dead. But the Klingon ship doesn’t fire. Lorca waits rather than jumping away, realizing something is going on in the Klingon ship which must involve Michael and Ash.
Michael is scary
Michael fights on. She’s vicious in combat with an actual enemy. We’ve seen her fight friends more often than we’ve seen her fight enemies, and she’s a frightening opponent. Kol has her for a moment, but lets her go to stab her. Idiot. She dodges away as he cuts her arm and stabs him deeply in the leg.
The Discovery has finished computing the cloaking signature and beams out Tyler and Admiral Cornwell first. As they energize L’Reill recovers from the stunning blast Michael shot her with and wraps her arms around Tyler, transporting with them.
Michael fights on still. She is retreating but holding her own against the much larger, heavier, and more armored Klingon. Any move could be her last, and she’s been fighting for long, lethal minutes. Maybe Lorca could do this well, but I can’t imagine anyone else on the crew would do this well against Kol with a Klingon weapon. Michael is ordered to prepare to beam out by Lorca, and does so by stealing back Captain Georgiou’s insignia and leaping off a balcony, disappearing into thin air as Kol roars in frustration.
The Ship of the Dead gets deader
Saru informs the Captain that an injured Cornwell and Klingon prisoner have been transported back in addition to Michael and Tyler. Lorca doesn’t react to this much, but his job may be on the line because of Cornwell’s return. This may force him to do something drastic.
He ignores Cornwell for the moment and fires all photon torpedoes on the Ship of the Dead, grimly watching the torpedoes hit their mark and completely overwhelming its defenses. The Ship of the Dead is annihilated and the planet of Pahvo is saved. Lorca walks off the bridge as it continues to explode.
Lorca has done so well that Starfleet command, for once, isn’t mad at him. Instead he is told to report to Starbase 46 and receive the Legion of Honor. Lorca is not thrilled by this, and looks thoughtful.
Michael asks Ash what happened with L’Reill
Michael finds Ash out of uniform and depressed. Michael asks him about his reaction to L’Reill. Ash finally opens up about his imprisonment. He admits the horrible things he had to do to survive, mostly the fact that he “encouraged” L’Reill’s creepy attraction and torturing obsession with him. Michael comforts him and accepts him and his unusually heavy baggage.
This is pretty realistic. Michael has a tough facade, but she’s very idealistic in her worldview and naive in her relationships. She is exactly the type of person who would be attracted to a victim like Ash, not realizing the complications his trauma could bring and just trying to comfort him. I really don’t see this ending well though.
Lorca isn’t happy Stamets wants medical help
Lorca recommends Starfleet give the Legion of Honor to Stamets instead. At the same time, he laments that they can’t fight and have to warp away. Stamets offers to navigate for one last jump before leaving active duty to undergo extensive testing by Starfleet’s best doctors.
Lorca looks like he’s hiding anger and is taken by surprise. I believe he gave the Legion of Honor to Stamets to manipulate him into jumping more and gathering more data on the parallel universes. He’s great at manipulation, but he does fail from time to time. He accepts Stamets’ offer for one last jump.
Ash wakes up on the couch from a horrifying nightmare of his captivity and ‘relationship’ (in heavy, heavy, sarcastic quotes) with L’Reill. Typical of an abuse or rape victim, Ash blames himself for his abuser’s crimes. In agony, he rushes to the brig where L’Reill is being held and falls to his knees, asking desperately, “What did you do to me?” L’Reill says, “Do not worry. I will never let them hurt you.” She nods strangely and says, “Soon.”
Is Voq’s consciousness inside Ash?
I knew Ash was a wreck, but I’ve also suspected he’s connected to Voq. I think he’s under Klingon mind control of some kind, and Voq’s consciousness is somehow inside Ash. From his reactions to L’Reill and L’Reill’s to him, this seems to be the case.
Ash was completely unable to shoot her when he saw her on the Ship of the Dead, and even on the Discovery he feels completely powerless around her. This could be normal trauma, but I think it’s much more. Ash thinks she has some perverted love for him. Perverted, yes, but love, no. Remember, the only person we’ve seen her protect and care for is Voq.
She would never protect Ash. She tortured and abused him for months. L’Reill doesn’t care about his well being, but she’s devoted to Voq. Keep in mind, they’ve shown us multiple times the possible human-Vulcan soul/mind connection. There’s no reason to think the Klingons don’t have similar techniques for melding people together. I believe that her remark about “Soon” is in reference to when she’ll activate Ash for whatever awful thing she’s been planning for him, maybe letting Voq take him over or pulling Voq’s consciousness out.
Someone please kill L’Reill
Whatever it is, L’Reill’s the worst. I wish someone would kill this monster, and if Lorca weren’t more busy, I bet he would. In previous episodes, I’ve wondered why her torture sessions seemed so bland. Back in “Choose Your Pain,” she tortured Lorca by shining a bright light in his eyes (I mean, come on), and Cornwell she only pretended to torture.
But now we’ve seen some real torture in Ash’s flashbacks, and it’s everything that Klingon torture has been hinted to be, and more. Clearly she’s been going easy on the others because her real plan centers on Ash and what she’s already done to him.
Where are we?
Stamets ominously prepares for his final jump and keeps mentioning it’s the last one. Uh oh. That’s not a good sign. Sure enough, we see Lorca input coordinates, which they’ve never shown before. Stamets screams and the Discovery shakes and the lights flicker under some tremendous strain. As the Discovery begins the jump, we see the standard animation but this time the Discovery splits in two before coming back together.
Stamets collapses, and his eyes have been altered visibly, glazed over with what looks like cataracts. He lies on the floor marveling at the “infinite permutations” he can see. The crew frantically tries to determine their position and the location of the Starbase they should have arrived at… but can’t.
Alternate universes are here, finally!
So they’re definitely in an alternate universe. No doubt. And Lorca has been trying to get them there for a long time, ever since he was put in command of Discovery and its spore drive. He’s pretending to be confused by not being at the Starbase, but he put in the coordinates.
Top three questions for the rest of the season:
Will the crew find out Lorca is from an alternate universe this season?
It’s basically definite they jumped to a new universe, but Lorca is no scientist and it’s hard to imagine that he jumped to the right universe among infinite permutations, as Stamets says. The odds are against it.
If he didn’t, the crew could shrug it off as a strange error caused by Stamets’ exhaustion and all could return to normal until Lorca tries it again. Also, the Discovery is surrounded by Klingon wreckage. Based on Lorca’s hatred of the Klingons, it’s much more likely his Starfleet was losing the war. So much Klingon debris points to Starfleet winning, and that in turn implies we’re in a new universe to both the crew and Lorca.
Will Tyler revolt against L’Reill’s plan (whatever it is) and die heroically or live on, traumatized?
TV shows and movies often take the easy way out and let their traumatized characters die heroic death because then we don’t have to feel bad they’re suffering anymore. But if it’s a cool enough death, it’s forgivable. Star Trek so far has exceeded my expectations, so I’m hopeful either way!
What is Voq and L’Reill’s plan?
Voq will return, but when? And how? We’ve had no obvious clues to his location during all this. I believe he’s somehow inside Ash Tyler, but in what way? And how will he manifest himself? He could just take over Ash’s body, but I’m sure that’s not L’Reill’s endgame. I can’t see Voq, the purist, being happy living indefinitely inside the body of a disgusting human.
Come back for more recaps after the next episode on January 7th, 2018 to find out more! I’m very happy with the series so far, and will definitely be watching the rest of this season. They’re doing a good job of keeping it interesting and very much Star Trek while giving it a new flavor. And the special effects are killer. I’ve rarely seen special effects this good. They surpass a lot of movie special effects. I’m very impressed so far.
Live long and prosper!