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Star Trek Dis - Season 1 - Episode 09

Star Trek Dis - 1x09 - Into the Forest I Go

Originally Aired: 2017-11-12

Bypassing Starfleet's orders, Lorca uses the U.S.S. Discovery crew's ultimate asset, the ship itself, in an effort to end the war with the Klingons once and for all.

My Rating - 9

Fan Rating Average - 7.73

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- Since It seemed clear that Lorca didn't know there was anyone aboard the ship of the dead who needed rescuing, then if Lorca's intent was to destroy it rather than take it over, why not just beam a bomb onto the ship instead of an away team? Some technobabble about the ship having explosion suppression tech would've been nice here.

- The title of this episode is a reference to a quote by John Muir: "And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul."
- The writers chose 133 spore jumps as an homage to the Battlestar Galactica episode "33."
- At one point in the episode, Stamets offers to take Culber to see a performance of the opera La bohème. The writers chose that specific opera because the actors Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz had both previously performed in a musical called Rent, which is based on La bohème.

Remarkable Scenes
- Tilly idiotically blowing Stamets' cover to Culber.
- Discovery engaging the ship of the dead.
- Burnham discovering Admiral Cornwell still alive while Tyler encounters L'Rell again.
- Burnham revealing herself to Kol to distract him to prevent him from ordering the ship of the dead to go to warp.
- Burnham provoking Kol into a duel.
- Discovery destroying the ship of the dead.

My Review
A fantastic story from start to finish with only minor things to quibble with. The most important thing this episode needed to clarify was just what was going on with L'Rell and Cornwell in the last episode and we thankfully got that clarification. Well, mostly. Was Cornwell really dead? Nope. Did L'Rell intend to deceive Kol and revive her after staging the fight where she killed her? Probably. Did she succeed in deceiving Kol about Cornwell being dead? Unclear. Also unclear is how exactly she managed to revive Cornwell. The most interesting revelation in this episode though was that Tyler was repressing the trauma he experienced from L'Rell's prior torture and that she continues to have some sort of hold over him. At the end of the episode, she says to him, "Do not worry, I will never let them hurt you. Soon..." which strongly implies that she has some kind of plan for him.

Given the conspicuous absence of Voq since L'Rell informed him he would have to sacrifice "everything" in order to go on and then the sudden appearance of Tyler directly afterward who also just so happens to seem to have some deep connection to L'Rell, either there is some kind of connection between Voq and Tyler, or the narrative is deliberately misleading us. We should hope for the former. Even so, unfortunately the exact nature of this connection if it exists is still being withheld both from the audience as well as the characters, a weak narrative choice.

While we can't know the precise nature of any such connection yet, a reasonable guess would be that Voq was surgically altered to look human and brainwashed into thinking he is Tyler. Tyler is thus just Voq acting as a sleeper agent, waiting to be activated by L'Rell. But if that is the case, Discovery would have done well to learn from how Battlestar Galactica did this. In BSG's pilot, we learned that Boomer was a sleeper agent at the start of the series. This information was withheld from the characters, not from the viewers. That narrative approach would've made the drama in Discovery much more satisfying. Instead, Discovery's approach of hiding this from both the audience and the characters too is just a recipe for cheap surprises down the road rather than great storytelling with true replay value.

Regardless of what ends up happening there, another weak beat in the story was L'Rell's insane luck. Whatever her plan really was aboard the ship of the dead in the previous episode, it failed miserably. Kol saw through her deception and she was imprisoned, presumably with no hope of escape. Sure was handy that Discovery showed up to blow up the ship and then rescued her by accident without at all planning to! If L'Rell really does turn out to be some mastermind sleeper agent puppeteer, she will also simultaneously only survive long enough to activate her sleeper agent due to incredibly dumb luck. There is no way she could've possibly planned to end up aboard the Discovery in this manner. And if all this was planned, subsequent episodes are sure gonna have to do a lot of work to fill in the gaps. Either way that's weak storytelling.

But all that said, this was otherwise a spectacular episode. Discovery battling the ship of the dead was cool. The military tactics leveraging the spore drive were clever and exciting to watch. And Burnham's duel with Kol was even cooler than the space battle! Overall a very satisfying episode that seems to have gotten the story back on track for the most part. The jump-to-the-middle-of-nowhere cliffhanger was a bit anticlimactic after such an otherwise strong episode though.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Matthew on 2017-11-15 at 2:25pm:
    I am feeling much better after this one - it's starting to come together, after a rather abrupt start.

    The cliffhanger is more meaningful where you consider where they probably are - i.e. the mirror universe, as covered around the web. I am completely convinced Lorca is actually Mirror Lorca, and that this will make sense of a number of things, like his sleeping with a phaser (consistent with the mirror universe love of shipboard assassination), praising the warrior aspect over science and exploration (his valedictory speech on the bridge was a weird bit in this episode, even taking the fact they're at war into account) and the fact that Cornwell finds him a stranger to her (with some unexplained scars).

    I've found myself thinking back to stuff he says in previous episodes in this context. What really strikes me is his attitude to Burnham. You can see that he's overridden the spore drive in a screengrab of his captain's chair console from this episode, so he clearly wants to get to one of the alternate dimensions that he talks Stamets through. But he clearly also wants Burnham, above all, to come with him. Nothing else explains his extraordinarily protective attitude to her in this episode - if he just wanted her on his team to help win the war, then her going over to the ship of the dead would just be her fulfilling that mission. But he doesn't want her there, he wants her safe until they jump dimensions. Also go back to the episode where he gets her on board and she's saying "I'm Starfleet, you can't break my principles" and he says "I know who you are, Michael Burnham" - my take is that while she obviously takes it as a figurative character assessment, he's being completely literal. He does know Burnham, very well, from the Mirror timeline. Tyler too, possibly, though who knows. A lot of his other random man management can be put down to him just being a bit of a do-whatever-it-takes merchant.

    My guess is that they have jumped to the Mirror universe but he's been out of stream for a while so is genuinely confused by what he's seeing when he gets there, rather than just putting it on.

    Maybe we are in for some juicy flashbacks with what actually happened with Lorca and the Buran - could have been Mirror Lorca engineering Prime Lorca's death then passing himself off as surviving Prime Lorca. BSG Razer style full episode flashback, anyone? Chance to bring BSG Tory back from the dead (also dead suspicious on the Mirror Universe front - would redeem her ridiculous death slightly if she was an aggressive xenophobic Terran Empire type). Also it would pay BSG back for giving us more Ro Laren!

    The whole Tyler/Voq thing is coming good, fingers crossed. L'Rell is just a fantastic actress and great character. Tyler appears totally confused and to have a split personality. I am inclined to think the nightmare flashback is not quite what it appears. Wild guess - L'Rell snatched Tyler and somehow implanted Voq's consciousness into him, which is now warring with the native mind. The flashbacks could imply an actual physical transformation (instead of torture) but I don't really see how that would pass the inevitable medical scans.

    Also let's not forget those weird black badges. I'm still hoping that's Section 31 though their role in this - who knows. Put themselves there to monitor Lorca given immense potential of the ship's technology; or even they are actually behind getting him from the Mirror universe because they saw the Federation might otherwise lose the war?

    Anyway - however these are resolved there is plenty to look forward to next season. There was some better character stuff in the later part of these episodes, particularly this one and Lethe. And I hope they keep variety - it's all a bit frenetic, and while the planet one before this was flawed in some ways I enjoyed the change of pace and tone.
  • From tigertooth on 2017-11-20 at 10:05pm:
    The "just one more jump" thing was painfully bad. So, so obvious - almost a parody. And they didn't even have a particularly good reason for it. Lorca didn't insist on it. They could have just used warp, but no -- we'll just do this incredibly dangerous thing ONE more time.

    Lorca was trying to unlock the secret of the cloak, not merely destroy the Ship of the Dead. If he beams a bomb over, that takes care of the one ship, but not all the others in the Klingon fleet. So that worked for me.

    Did they show how Burnham got onto the bridge? It seemed implausible that she could get on the bridge undetected and set up the machine. Then again, that huge bridge is quite unlike the small, simple bridges we're used to seeing on Klingon ships.

    So the Klingon ship cloaks and prepares to warp away. Then Burnham shows up and the entire bridge forgets that there's a Starfleet vessel popping from place to place all around them. Seems that would raise some alarms, but instead the entire bridge crew ignores their sensors and turns into the thunderdome. Ridiculous.

    I didn't like the "Tyler is the Manchurian Candidate" idea, but assuming that Voq is indeed related, I might come around on it.

    I hope they can start making the characters, especially the Klingons, act in ways that show some common sense.
  • From T. Buchholz on 2017-11-28 at 2:39pm:
    Hi there Mr Kethinov! Have you considered reviewing The Orville? I think it captures the spirit of classic Trek quite well though it can be a bit silly at times. is there any particular reason not to review it other than time constraints?
  • From Kethinvo on 2017-11-28 at 4:54pm:
    Time constraints is the only reason.

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