Star Trek #1461: Into the Forest I Go

FORMULA: The Wrath of Kahn + Abrams' Star Trek + The Vulcan Hello + It's Only a Paper Moon

WHY WE LIKE IT: Tense and intense!

WHY WE DON'T: The wrong mid-season cliffhanger.

REVIEW: Well, that was an exciting mid-season episode. (Which in no way redeems the Pahvan bore that preceded it, as the aliens play no part except to act as abstract victims Starfleet doesn't care to protect.) Loads of tense action as Stamets must make 133 micro jumps all around the Klingon ship to shortcut triangulation of the cloaking device, perhaps at the cost of his humanity, while Burnham and Tyler board the enemy vessel to plant probes, save the Admiral, and eventually, fight Kol and retrieve L'Rell... It doesn't let up. And one of the things that makes it exciting is the ambiguity surrounding Lt. Tyler. If he is a Klingon plant, then his idea to have Burnham on his away team to the Klingon ship is suspect, her advocacy of this idea ironic, his PTSD either because of torture or extreme surgery. You're on the edge of your seat waiting for his betrayal to happen, at which point it would feel like Tyler - a likeable character - had essentially died.

But it doesn't happen, though we do get implicit confirmation that he must actually be Voq, under all those human genetics and memory implants. L'Rell, having spent all her political capital, jumps ship and beams herself to Discovery as a captive where she tells Tyler she would never harm him. He's still "Tyler", interpreting his memories of having sex with L'Rell as horror (PG-13 strikes again in the form of slight nudity here). But how long before she "triggers" his transformation back into Voq? On subsequent watching, that first viewing's tension is somewhat dispelled and turns into wry irony. Tyler lives to create tension another day.

Stamets is outed as having the spore drive rewire his brain, but rather than spark Lorca's concern, it actually opens the door to what initially (and may yet) could be long-range plans for the show. Once the conflict with the Klingons is over, where does Discovery go? Once answer is to other dimensions because a map of Stamets' jumps shows the mycelial network spreads to other realities. Could this be why the Discovery and its spore drive haven't made more of an impact in Star Trek history? Could it even be used to spring the ship forward in time to the post-TNG era? Anything is possible. So I think it's a little unfortunate that the cliffhanger is actually a jump to an "other space". Was the conversation just a very short-range set-up for this? It asks an interesting question: Did Lorca sabotage Stamets' last jump because going back to Starbase with the Admiral would lead to both Stamets' departure and his own, or was the accident Stamets' fault? However, it feels like a distraction from the main plot. Tyler turning into Voq, for example, would have been much more of a shocker (albeit a telegraphed one), germane to both the Klingon war arc and Burnham's story.

LESSON: One man's sex fantasies are another man's nightmares. And sometimes that one man is also the other man.

REWATCHABILITY - High - A tension-filled action episode with a mostly satisfying resolution to the first part of the season.


snell said...

One thing that occurred to me: the discussion of "other dimensions" opens the possibility that Discovery was never in our/classic/TOS timeline to begin with. A cheat, no doubt, but one that allows easy explanation as to why some technologies and events were never mentioned (and seem inconsistent with) the original shows...


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