Kobayashi Marie continues its discussion of the first season of Star Trek Discovery with Episode 10 – Despite Yourself
Yellow Alert! We have no idea where we are!
Wait a minute … Vulcan rebels firing on Discovery? Something’s up here. Something is definitely up. This is Not. Our. Universe.
It can’t be. Because Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) has just lashed out at Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) and launched him right across sick bay. These boys are about love not war. Don’t fight, boys, please …
Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif) is on a massive rollercoaster this episode. Visiting L’Rell (Mary Chieffo) in the brig, she has some kind of control over him. “Whom do we seek?” is the trigger. Tyler looks straight down the camera lens and replies “Kahless”. Creepy, jumpy, scary. He recites responses in Klingon until he regains himself and locks her back up. And that’s not even the worst. Even though I knew it was coming, the moment where Tyler pounces on Dr Culber (Wilson Cruz) is still shocking. Latif is so good here, going from panic (as Culber gives his diagnosis) to attack, as his alternate personality kicks in. It shocked me then and it shocks me now. And he ends in the mirror universe promising that he will always protect Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green). And if he would like to come to my universe and promise to always protect me, that would be absolutely fine too.
Speaking of the mirror universe, these next episodes give several of the cast the opportunity to show off a different aspect to their characters, and none more so than Mary Wiseman, because the very best bit about this alternative universe so far is that Sylvia Tilly is the Captain! Not only does she get to live up to her dreams, but it’s also a most clever piece of writing, choosing the most unlikely character we’ve met so far to be the one in charge. Wiseman is so good at this, and the reactions of those around her as she settles into her new role are hilarious. There’s also the very nice nod to James Doohan’s Montgomery Scott from Star Trek TOS, as Jason Isaacs makes his Chief Engineer Scottish.
What do we learn about the alternative universe then? Firstly, that the Terran Empire is an oppressive, racist, xenophobic culture. Well, nothing new there then. The new uniforms look bad-ass. Burnham is presumed dead, and Lorca is a fugitive wanted for her murder. The emperor is savage; Terrans don’t apologise.
Aha! Mention of the USS Defiant in this mirror-verse caused me to actually pause watching the episode, and take a massive side-trip down memory lane. So in the past four hours since writing the above sentence, I have watched two episodes of Enterprise (In a Mirror, Darkly – Parts I and II), followed by two episodes of Star Trek TOS (Mirror, Mirror and The Tholian Web). Go on. Do it. You know you want to. You’ll love seeing the bridge of an original Constellation Class ship light up once more (literally, as Trip Tucker (Connor Trinneer) gets the power back online). Discovery’s alternate universe has the same salute as we see in those Enterprise episodes, so we know it’s the same place. And the agoniser booths are also seen in the In a Mirror, Darkly episodes. Plus I had totally forgotten that Hoshi Sato (Linda Park) ends up declaring herself Emperor!
Watching all of these episodes has really made me wonder what other crossovers and references we may have coming in S2 of Discovery, so to have had this refresher has been perfect.
Long Live the Empire!
Kobayashi Marie will be back next Wednesday with an all new column continuing its on-going journey to (for now) recap Season 1 of Star Trek Discovery