The first half of Star Trek: Discovery‘s entrance deteriorate finished with a white-knuckle cliffhanger, and last night the show returned with a satisfyingly action-packed episode. “Despite Yourself” suggested where the characters wound up and stoked the fires of a fan speculation about Tyler’s identity. It also lifted some age-old questions about certain aspects of the Star Trek mythos.
Spoilers ahead. SERIOUSLY. Do not review serve if you will be spoiled by spoilers.
All the mirrors
One of the missions of ST:DISCO seems to be holding the campiest tropes from ST:TOS and branch them emo and dark. Certainly that was the case with Harry Mudd, a comic service figure from TOS whose DISCO incarnation is spiteful and bitterly amoral. And as of last night, we’re getting the DISCO reboot of the Mirror Universe that first seemed in the oft-GIF’d TOS partial “Mirror, Mirror.” If you’ve never seen a fun about Mirror Spock’s beard, you’ve substantially never visited the Internet for any length of time.
The Mirror Universe showed up in several DS9 episodes, which also brought their satisfactory share of campy moments. we will always value Mirror Kira, wearing a sparkly wipe and eating grapes from the hands of her sex slaves. And it came back again in Star Trek: Enterprise, as partial of that series’ time transport mania (more on that in a moment).
What do we know about the Mirror Universe? Mostly, it’s just what you think. It’s another universe, just like ours, solely UPSIDE DOWN. Everybody’s reflection in the Mirror Universe is the conflicting of who they are in the universe. So the awkward, nerdy Cadet Tilly is the brash, ruthless Captain “Killy” in the Mirror Universe. The Klingons are the good guys, fighting the authoritarian, extremist Terran Empire. And so on.
For those of you who (like me) screamed “WAT NO!” when Tyler killed Culber, it’s critical to remember that there’s some timey-wimey going on in the Mirror Universe, too. Apparently you can blip around in time, as the USS Defiant did when it jumped into the Mirror Universe in the TOS partial “The Tholian Web.” Captain Archer runs into the Defiant in ENT, which means he’s assembly a ship from his future, trapped in an swap timeline.
One of the fun tools of the Mirror Universe is that you get to write sentences like that. But it also means that flattering much anything can happen.
You can see since there’s always something crazy in Mirror Universe episodes. But ST:DISCO is trying to go full dark with it, emphasizing the horror of the Terran Empire’s agonizer pain weapons and barbarous bureau politics.
How does the Terran Empire actually work?
This brings me to a doubt that I’ve always had about the Mirror Universe, but which seems quite distinct now that DISCO is actually trying to be dirty and picturesque with it. How the ruin does a multitude with no laws against murder and attack turn technologically worldly adequate to conquer tools of the galaxy? we mean, this is a doubt I’ve had about the Klingon Empire, too.
Before you start yelling at me about comparatively successful-yet-murderous peremptory regimes helmed by Mao and Stalin and Hitler, let me indicate out a few things. First of all, even the many bloodthirsty dictatorships in complicated story didn’t concede everyone to just rampantly murder their underlings. That was the right of the tyrant and his cronies. Other people had to reside by the common laws. As shortly as every teenager central could kill with impunity—arguably the conditions in China during the Great Leap Forward, or in Cambodia under Pol Pot—productivity and creation went into the toilet. Pol Pot would never have had the resources to chaperon an interstellar sovereignty into being.
My indicate is that killing every efficient person around you comes at a social cost. If everybody reaches a position of management by killing their competition, you’d have very few shining scientists and other innovators. we mean, what kind of multitude do we suppose for the Terran Empire? Is the Earth just totally pell-mell evil, with no preparation or resources for anyone unless they murder to get them? In which case, where do they get those resources, given anyone who can furnish them would substantially be dead?
I’m certain there’s some amazingly shrewd answer to my questions, and we acquire it. we just find these “100-percent evil” societies even some-more improbable than FTL. we have no problem desiring in a fascist, extremist Terran Empire. But we don’t cruise it would be run like gangland. Gangs don’t scale to galactic empires. At best they turn unsuccessful states.
But back to the episode
I will now lift the nitpicker hang out of my boundary (ouch!) and return to holding the partial at face value. we get since we need the Mirror Universe at this indicate in the season. The star of DISCO is full of dignified gray areas and corruption, and we need a sign that things could always be worse. The Federation is at slightest on the trail toward democracy, while the Terran Empire rejected democracy a prolonged time ago.
So now we have a sheer instance of what could occur if the Discovery doesn’t get that piece of Klingon decloaking tech back to the star in time to save everybody. Lots of commentators have already forked out that the Mirror Universe is a not-so-subtle anxiety to the arise of fascism around the world. This goes right back to its first coming in TOS, where the Mirror Universe characters acted like Nazis. Even the Terran Empire salute, with right arm bearing out rigidly, references the Nazis.
In a good bit of together plotting, “Despite Yourself” doesn’t just understanding with swap universes—it also deals with swap identities in Tyler’s ever-weirdening impression arc. For several episodes, fans have been wondering either Tyler’s PTSD flashbacks exhibit that he’s actually Klingon separatist celebrity Voq, surgically altered to demeanour like Tyler. Or maybe the Klingons surgically ingrained Voq’s celebrity into Tyler’s mind.
Either way, we’ve been teased with the probability that Tyler and Voq now share the same brain. And that’s flattering much reliable by “Despite Yourself,” when Tyler visits L’Rell in the brig and she activates his Voq side. She speaks partial of a Klingon request to him, and he replies in Klingon. Then he snaps back into Tyler mode and L’Rell exclaims with warn that the request was ostensible to “bring him back.”
Completely freaked out by this encounter, Tyler heads to Culber in sickbay. There, Culber’s tests exhibit that Tyler was actually altered in ways he didn’t locate during the Lieutenant’s first medical scan. Tyler’s skeleton were cut and condensed and all his viscera are scarred. Culber also mentions that there are new ways to do brainwashing in which one temperament is overlaid on top of another identity. Alarmed that Culber competence belligerent him, Tyler fast breaks the doctor’s neck and races to join Burnham and Lorca on their goal to benefit control of the Shenzhou.
Obviously, Tyler’s temperament is fracturing, and it has all to do with this celebrity smoke-stack in his brain. All the nonsense about changing the distance of his skeleton suggests strongly that Tyler’s celebrity was injected into Voq’s surgically-altered body. Because of march a Klingon-to-human acclimatisation would engage a little shrinkage. And of march L’Rell would select to make Voq demeanour like her little human sex toy. That way she gets the mind of the man she loves in the physique of the man she’s spooky with.
Too bad L’Rell never watched Frankenhooker, since then she’d know that this scheme never works out the way you expect.
That said, we adore that DISCO is lifting all kinds of philosophical questions about temperament and individuality in the context of the Mirror Universe. What if the Tyler celebrity “wins” in this battle with Voq? Is he really Tyler, even yet technically he’s in Voq’s body? Who is obliged for Culber’s murder? Will Tyler turn some mixed of Tyler and Voq? Is there a good Voq out there in the Mirror Universe who has something to contend about all of this?
Plus, there’s Stamets’ temperament to consider. He’s unsure between milky-eyed catatonic and “I know all” wizardry. He seems to know what’s happening in mixed universes and even warns Culber that “the rivalry is here” right before Tyler goes homicidal.
I think that at slightest some of these questions will be answered soon. This series may be uneven, but I’m enjoying the ruin out of it.
Final thought: we am really anticipating that the faceless Emperor of the Mirror Universe turns out to be Mirror Philippa Georgiou, as a few people have suggested on Twitter. That would be a fun curtsy to a beloved impression who got distant too little screen time.
Listing picture by CBS