Scotch… the final frontier.
Several years ago, I came to the realization that I have never actually seen much of the original Trek. This provided me with an excuse to go through from the beginning to see the process by which a cohesive, generation-spanning and inspirational setting is presented to viewers. In the end, though, it’s an excuse to get snarky and pick apart a show I’ve loved since childhood.
Why the drinking? Because every time I reflect on the scope of this project I realize there are over five hundred hours of Star Trek ahead of me.
In which Tyler shows his true colors and the Emperor is revealed.
The Discovery is apparently having some power problems, and a malfucntion on Deck 12 is being repaired in a horror-movie-like atmosphere and cinematic sequence. Stamets, still crazy, cradles Doc Culber and goes on about seeing him through the trees of a dark forest. One might guess, given his prophetic hints in the last episode and the multiversal nature of the Mycelial network, that this is going to involve pulling an alternate version of Culber over to the Discovery somehow. Meanwhile, aboard the Shenzhou, Burnham doesn’t find her stateroom relaxing at all. It’s presumably a familiar enough ship, but having Saru just be there to fill her bath with Lush products is a bit off. He is a slave of the Terran EMpire and considered beneath name-ownership or modestry concerns. We know that eventually, some nonhumans will be recognized as person enough to be on the bridge and even shape policy for the empire, though – as long as they’re part human.
Once dressed, Burnham gets to attend an execution-by-transporter for seditious traitors – beaming them into space, because it’s crueler than simply dispersing the pattern. And Bunrham’s difficulty is that it’s getting easier and easier to pass as a native, which she’s pouring out to Ash, who is probably a Klingon and likely Voq. And let’s also remember that every moment, Lorca is being tortured in an Agonizer booth. It’s also worth noting that Saru is so beneath contempt that he doesn’t have to ring the door chime to gain entry into the Captain’s quarters. A fact that a revolutionary could use, if they thought of it. Or Burnham might mess up.
Tilly is on the line on a secure channel, with the real Saru. They have the data, but can’t transmit it due to the paranoid nature of the Terran firewall. The Defiant data is still needed, and Stamets isn’t improving enough to teleport them out. She also lies to Saru about the presence of his counterpart. In return, they don’t tell Brunham about Culber, because she doesn’t need the stress, and they all think that Stamets, or at least whoever he is now, is the one that did it. Tilly tells us that his brain is being rewired by the Spore interaction, and demands to help as the current foremost-spore-expert.
Burnham gets a hail from Maddox of the Imperial flagship – they’re all so pleased that Burnham is alive and has captured the traitor Lorca. Maddox also has a mission for her – tracking down the Fire Wolf, Klingon leader of the resistance and exterminating that leader and everyone within a blast radius. Rather than nuking them from orbit, Burnham introduces a little disciplinbe back to her crew by prepping a more personal bloddbath.
Lorca’s in bad shape, but orders Burnham to do anything necessary to save the Federation in their own universe, whatever the cost. Ultimately, he believes that the ends justify the means, whereas Burnham argues that this universe has its own Federation and is led by a Klingon. Which means that if they can talk successfully, Burnham might have a means to talk to the Prime universe Klingons and negotiate for peace. She and Tyler will have to go alone.
As a reminder, Stamets did call Tilly captain that time, so as she and Saru think about his treatment, they have to entertain the probability that he’s being conditioned to see multiple universes. Indeed, brain scans show that his neurons are firing across the universal bridge. As such, the plan is to strengthen the bridge with more spores, to try to restore function to his whole brain.
Burnham and Ash prep to go in alone, without a security team. Body armor on, weapons drawn. The rebel camp is cloaked and has the sensors to tell they’ve beamed down – and a sentry patrol. The two of them surrender as soon as the warning shots abate, and are taken into custody to ‘deliver a message.’ I think we have to assume that Burnham didn’t deign to tell any of her subordinates what ‘her plan’ was, but a question is whether the Shenzhou can detect the absence of expected phaser fire on the surface, and how they’ll maintain cover on the way back. The base was cloaked, but they release it to bring Burnham in – one way or another, that base is gone before Burnham can go back – it’s a security risk to stay there if they ever let Burnham return to the ship.
The Fire Wolf is, of course, Voq son of None, and this is making Ash very uncomfortable. The negotiations involve Burnham promising to let them evacuate, then strafing the base, in exchange for the key to negotiating with Klingons (whatever form that takes) but there is, of course, a test to be taken to make sure they can be trusted. Voq brings Sarek the Prophet to do a mind meld. Interesting that the Prophet of the Resistance’s son gets a position on the Enterprise. Burnham’s intentions are confirmed, and Voq gives her what she asks for, which includes trigger words for Ash. If only Sarek had mind melded him as well. His words are triggering against some of T’Kuvma’s old teachings, and he breaks, screaming in Klingon and attacking Voq. The fact that nobody bothers checking Nash is basically unconscionable, but Burnahm gets a data-dump with some itel that the rebels can invalidate, and the charade continues.
Stamets’ treatment goes onwards and seems to be making good progress, and Tilly might get a recommendation to command training if they ever get back. There’s a panic moment and Stamets flatlines, and Saru orders medics in to restart his heart. It’s too late – Stamets’ body dies. No guarantees about his mind.
Now it’s time for Burnham to get the truth, which again could have been discerned if Sarek had mind-melded her. He has to come clean about his ingrained reverence for L’Rell, and gets flashes of the surgery in which Voq was surgically changed to being Ash Tyler. But seeing Voq made him remember who Voq really is. And after some sense denials, Burnham fails to kill Voq and has to be rescued by Saru and the guard. Say a moment of thanks for those threat cillia, and for nonhuman slaves being far enough below modesty that they don’t even rate a doorbell. And since Ash is now a traitor and a mutineer, he gets sentenced to Transportation.
Stamets was dead, but the nifty thing about having your brain be a bridge to another dimension is that if it stops, it might get kickstarted again from somewhere else. Tilly gets to watch him twitch around as, inside is mind and consciousness, he’s met in the Mycelial Forest by another Paul Stamets of a decidedly more militaristic dress.
Despite all wisdom, Burnham gives Tyler/Voq the chance for some last words, which he doesn’t use to try to out her. And Burnham finally gives into this universe’s zeitgeist and kills him personally… unless he gets rescued by unknown forces for future diplomatic relations by the Discovery. Plus he serves as a convenient package to deliver a flash drive full of data about the Defiant. And she also orders Lorca brought to her ready room for a private interrogation, where he orders Burnham to keep her cover in case there’s a problem with their cover.
This is interrupted by a cloaked ship warping in and performing Exterminatus, General Order 4, on the rebel planet under the orders of the Emperor. Emperor Georgiou, who’s annoyed at having to attend to Lorca and the rebels personally.