After what felt like an eternity since the last episode, Star Trek: Discovery returned with a monumental bang. Immediately following on from the aftermath of their arrival in the Mirror Universe, (the Mirror Universe was first introduced in the original series Star Trek episode “Mirror, Mirror” back in 1967) the ambiguously enigmatic Lorca and his naive crew find themselves thrust into the heart of a universal conflict, unlike anything they’ve seen before.
Directed by Star Trek royalty, Jonathan Frakes, Despite Yourself is a clear departure from the previous half of this inaugural season, focusing heavily on the sense of impending doom as well as appearing to have a much clearer purpose.
In terms of events, this curtain raiser is a smorgasbord of memorable experiences. With the re-introduction of the Terran Empire, revelations about Tyler’s mysterious time with L’Rell begin to come to light and most memorably, Cadet Tilly assumes command of the crew in an attempt to coerce the unusual world they have “surprisingly” entered.
From the outset, suspicions were high on how the Discovery came to be in this mysterious realm. Immediately fingers began to point at Lorca, however his quick quash on the situation causes the crew to consider the more pertinent danger: where are we, and how do we get back? From here on, Frakes steers us through a journey of cloak, dagger, and betrayal. With the apprehension of the dear Doctor Culber regarding Stamet’ condition, L’Rell’s growing mystique, and the presence of a human empire ritually murdering foreign beings for sport, interest is at potentially an all-time high.
The culmination of these events is the immensely crafted sequence involving Burnham, Tyler, and Lorca masquerading as their Mirror counterparts aboard the ISS Shenzhou. Without giving away spoilers, this whole thing was a wonder of tension. Tyler’s previous action in the sick bay creates a much-needed sense of dramatic irony, especially given how we know next to nothing about Lorca. Burnham’s remorse for the actions aboard her own Shenzhou weighs heavy as she makes her way toward the bridge. And Lorca, well let’s just say his fortunes don’t seem to have improved since his first time in L’Rell’s prison.
As far as appetizers go, Despite Yourself is the perfect dish. Its recipe for drama, romance, action, and mystery combine effectively to create a meal that tastes better with each bite. Its ability to maintain its heat and flavor throughout is a credit to actors Jason Isaacs, Sonequa Martin-Green and Mary Wiseman, whose transformation from shrinking violet to dominant oppressor will leave you salivating for more.
Here’s a quick peek at next week’s episode –