Second Union

Second Union

STAR TREK REWIND: “Despite Yourself”

“Hello, this is Captain Tilly, what the he–heck– hell– what the hell?! Hold your horses!”

Nothing is where it’s supposed to be. True, you can hop, skip, and jump into another reality when you have Stamets-spores in your warp drive, but Discovery had just completed a grueling (and gory) mission. While Saru informs the bridge crew (and us) that ship signatures do not conform to established records, Burnham commandeers the discussion to tell us identical particles cannot co-exist in the same universe. In other words, Timecop and identical Ron Silvers melting into each other before dissolving completely.

In a matter of seconds, they figure out they’re in a parallel universe. How long did it take Kirk to figure it out? Seven minutes? It’s a conceit we have to get used to with newer Star Trek. The last time we visited the mirror universe was Enterprise’s “In a Mirror Darkly” two-parter, but there was no process of … well … discovery involved. They were a couple of straight-up episodes but told from a different perspective, and they do provide Saru with relevant information about the disappearance of the U.S.S. Defiant, last seen vanishing from Tholian-occupied space.

Lorca sends Ash Tyler out in an excursion pod (cutely referred to as a worker bee) to retrieve information from a flotsam of broken ships in Discovery’s path. He discovers that Vulcans and Andorians are using Klingon technology. Later, he visits L’Rell (because she’s worth it) in the brig demanding to know what she “did to him.” She tells him they did it together, whatever that means, and it’s more than obvious their unusual sexual dynamic is triggering him. He behaves like a Manchurian Candidate with amnesia, and then we’re subjected to scenes of perfect-Burnham attempting to reach him on an emotional level. Is there anything she can’t do?

Meanwhile, Stamets has gone bye-bye with creepy eyes, muttering about forests and such. I’m not completely clear on how in his twisted grey matter, Stamets could summon alternate dimensions. Star Trek has always attempted (to a nauseating degree) to root hard science with workaday logic, but here, Discovery plays as sensation more than fact. Burnham harvests the data Tyler has collected and gives the crew the scoop. The xenophobic Terran Empire rules the known galaxy, and it’s probably best to stay clear of them, but when they are confronted with a sister ship, they’re required to put on a performance.

It’s revealed that Tilly is Discovery’s skipper. She fumbles her way through an audio-only transmission while Lorca and Burnham prepare the crew and ship to exist in this universe. They change their uniforms and insignia and become the I.S.S. Discovery. Burnham learns her counterpart is presumed dead and Lorca’s counterpart is a fugitive wanted in connection with her death. Tilly seeks Burnham’s council (of course) in order to bring out her animal nature with regard to the version of her that she is replacing. I love her to death, but Tilly is so wrong for this show.

I’m reminded of Spock from the Original Series episode, “Mirror, Mirror” telling Kirk and McCoy that, “It was far easier for you as civilized men to behave like barbarians than it was for them as barbarians to behave like civilized men.” It’s just as easy apparently for Tilly to dive right into that character, but I just don’t believe she could make the transition that smoothly. They come up with a plan to bring Lorca in by way of Burnham’s “resurrection.”

After performing some intensive scans of Tyler, Chief Medical Officer Culber (Wilson Cruz) comes to the conclusion that either Tyler was the subject of extreme torture by the Klingons, or that Tyler might actually be a Klingon. He, rather unwisely, informs Tyler of his findings and that he will be taken off active duty until this mystery is solved. Tyler snaps his neck Worf-style. Goodbye, Hugh … and a flight of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Captain Burnham returns to her ship, which seems to be filled with a number of crew from the ill-fated Shenzhou. She slays the officer who took her place in her absence and takes over the ship, where she is celebrated by her subordinates while Lorca spends time in the agony booth. “Despite Yourself” is an interesting, provocative change of pace for Star Trek: Discovery, but I wonder if this story arc is introduced too early in the show’s run. We don’t know these characters. We haven’t had time to understand them, therefore nothing resembling tension is felt as a result of their choices.

Star Trek Rewind explores the Star Trek universe. From Archer to Janeway, Kirk to Picard, and Georgiou to Sisko — boldly read what no one has read before!

Related Articles