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Star Trek Dis - Season 1 - Episode 11

Star Trek Dis - 1x11 - The Wolf Inside

Originally Aired: 2018-1-14

As the crew continues their guise, Burnham undergoes a merciless mission in hopes of helping the U.S.S. Discovery return home. Tilly works on restoring Stamets' neurofunction.

My Rating - 5

Fan Rating Average - 6.24

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- According to Saru, the population of Kelpians is quite low in the prime universe.

Remarkable Scenes
- Burnham: "This rebellion against the Terrans: it's an unshakable union of species! Klingons, Vulcans, Andorians, Tellarites! It's the closest to a Federation this universe may ever see!"
- Burnham meeting with mirror Voq: the leader of the rebels.
- Voq bringing out "the prophet:" a bearded mirror Sarek.
- Tyler's subconscious programming getting triggered by Burnham's and Voq's conversation about how Voq came to lead a diverse group of rebels.
- Tyler's slow, painful transformation into Voq before a horrified Burnham's eyes.
- Stamets encountering mirror Stamets in the mycelium network.
- Burnham using Tyler's scheduled execution as a means to beam him to Discovery with the stolen intelligence files instead of kill him.
- The Emperor's ship destroying the rebel base.

My Review
The long overdue final confirmation of Tyler being Voq finally happened. As expected, this episode milked that drama for all it was worth and then some, opening the episode with Burnham and Tyler deepening their relationship more than ever before in an ironic, though heavy-handed fashion and then closing the episode with the ultimate betrayal. Storytelling that relies on surprise twists of this sort is incredibly cheap. It doesn't age well with multiple viewings and as such is poor justification for an otherwise remarkably slow-paced plot. As mentioned before, a better model for such a twist would have been what Battlestar Galactica did with Boomer being revealed to be a Cylon in the pilot. In BSG, the audience was clued-in to this but the characters weren't. Instead of teasing an annoying mystery, instead the drama explicitly emphasized the ever-present threat of a sleeper agent in their midst. Cluing in the audience from the beginning about what L'Rell and Voq were planning would've been a similarly much more compelling drama.

In addition to making the individual episodes more fun to watch though, cluing in the audience early would've also provided Discovery with an opportunity to lend some credibility to what by all appearances now seems like an asininely idiotic plan on L'Rell's part. Her and Voq's infiltration of Discovery is at best recklessly lucky and at worst a bumbling failure. The narrative has given us no reason to assume either of them had much of a coherent plan at all, and if it turns out they did plan all this somehow, it's going to require a lot of explanation for how they could have possibly known that it would all work out. Given that, Tyler/Voq's chest thumping in his final confrontation with Burnham about the brilliance of his plan to infiltrate Discovery and learn its secrets came across largely as lame and overwrought. There's also a loose end surrounding what mirror Saru's precise motivations were in saving Burnham. It feels like there's more to that than what we've been shown so far, but it was left annoyingly vague.

What worked much better however was the acting and directing surrounding Tyler's transformation into Voq. In fact, one of the highlights of the episode is the earlier part of that scene which begins with Tyler confusedly pleading with her to recall that Captain Lorca had encouraged them to embrace doing things that were out of their nature to survive. In that moment Tyler was in active denial about who he was. Then Burnham triggered memories of his torture again, causing Tyler to excuse his behavior as an after effect of PTSD. Then, after a bit more prodding from Burnham, Tyler was finally forced to remember exactly who and what he was. And his affection for Burnham instantly vanished. The whole transformation scene—save for the aspects at the end that were overwrought—was fascinating to watch. Shazad Latif's acting in that scene was fantastic and the smart intercutting of clips from previous episodes of T'Kuvma, Voq, and L'Rell was highly effective.

This is a particularly strong episode for Burnham as well. Yet another heavy-handed irony of the episode, though one that is much more effective, was getting to see Burnham strut her stuff as captain of the Shenzhou, something she's always wanted, only to be betrayed at the end of the episode by mirror Georgiou: an ironic reversal of Burnham betraying prime Georgiou in order to take temporary command of the Shenzhou in the pilot. The closing scene revealing mirror Georgiou to be the Emperor was highly amusing and might lend credence to the hypothesis outlined in the previous review that Empress Georgiou could be a descendant of Empress Hoshi Sato. Granted, this hypothesis is a bit ethnically confused given that Sato was a Japanese character and Georgiou is a Malaysian Chinese character, but the ethnic portrayal was already a bit confused given that Sato was portrayed by a Korean-American, so who knows?

Speaking of mirror characters, this episode was a surprisingly effective use of mirror Voq, and Burnham's fascination with him was delightfully in the spirit of Star Trek. Her insistence on figuring out precisely how a Klingon could learn to compromise and embrace diversity was admirably high-minded and effectively foreshadows all sorts of things that occur later in Star Trek's chronology, from Kirk's begrudging peace with Kor, to his active collaboration with Kang to fight off a common enemy, to the Klingons joining forces with the Federation to fight the Dominion on DS9. Burnham learned in this episode that Klingons are naturally predisposed to gain respect for those they share a common enemy with, which was a nice touch.

It was also highly amusing to see mirror Sarek—complete with an obligatory evil Vulcan goatee—take in Burnham's life in the prime universe via a mind meld, nicely paralleling mirror Spock's mind meld with McCoy in TOS: Mirror, Mirror. Although this raises a number of questions the episode didn't bother with. For instance, did mirror Burnham have a relationship with mirror Sarek just as prime Burnham and prime Sarek did? It doesn't appear so, but the episode doesn't address this. And what was mirror Sarek's relationship to mirror Spock? It seems odd that mirror Sarek would fight in the rebellion while mirror Spock serves on the I.S.S. Enterprise. However, perhaps like prime Spock and prime Sarek, mirror Spock and mirror Sarek don't quite get along. Overall this is a fine episode. It could've been better had the story not dragged out the Tyler/Voq reveal so long and especially if L'Rell's and Voq's infiltration plan made a bit more sense, but this episode is largely effective in spite of that.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Inga on 2018-02-14 at 7:17am:
    I think mirror Saru saved Burnham's life because she showed him kindness.

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