The last 2017 episode of Star Trek: Discovery, “Into the Forest I Go,” has put several things to bed, while only keeping us gleefully agitated until the next half of the season. Let’s just hit spore drive and jump right into it.
Star Trek: Discovery finally found its way
I’m so glad that, at the end of the first half of this season, Star Trek: Discovery has found its path forward. It was rocky at first — the first few episodes (barring the pilot) didn’t feel like Star Trek in the sense that the fun, joy, and life embedded in the franchise was being underserved and little used, all at the expense of setting up the gravity of war. Some writers have said, in so many words, that this isn’t your parent’s Star Trek, nor should it aspire to be such — The Next Generation had fans saying it wasn’t Star Trek-ish enough, and nowadays, we laud it as being on par with the original series. To be clear, Discovery being different was never my issue; it was that the tone was so far removed from the first couple episodes after the pilot that it was hard to see exactly where this series was going. Exactly how far would it go in its tone until it lost the plot completely? In other words, where was the show’s unique voice?
Thankfully, the show’s team got a handle on Discovery’s voice. Now, we’re seeing a Discovery that is more confident in its story direction and characterization. We now care about these characters and hope that they make it home in one piece. We are excited to see their explorations as they figure out how to end this war with the Klingons. We now care about all of the facets of our heroes’ lives and want the best for them.
However, it’s a shame that once we’ve gotten in a groove, we have to wait a few months for the show to resume. More on this below.
Your “Voq” theory doesn’t matter anymore
Yes, I’m talking smack about the Voq-is-Tyler theory. At this point, that’s the absolute least of our problems. Instead, the real concern is how bad off Tyler actually is, whether or not he’s got Voq’s brain or lifeforce implanted in him. I mean, y’all saw the episode — y’all saw how much PTSD our boy is going through!
This episode painted the extreme picture of how Tyler’s mind is having trouble processing the trauma it’s been through. I know these episodes are written long before they can react to fan observations, but it’s almost as if this particular episode’s modus operandi was to say to everyone obsessed with how Voq has to be Tyler, “Hey! Let me take you on a small journey to a mental hellscape to show you why Voq really doesn’t matter anymore.”
What can I say about Tyler’s graphic nightmare? First of all, it was horrific. What’s even more horrific is that Tyler’s dreams could get worse now that L’Rell is actually on board. Second, the amount of abuse Tyler suffered — and the anger towards the Klingons he’s amassed because of it — negates any credence a “Voq overtakes the Discovery as Tyler” theory. We saw how he instantly went into shock at the sight of L’Rell when he and Michael were aboard the Ship of the Dead. At this point, all Tyler wants is peace, and if anything, the hypothetical scenario of him learning he’s actually a Klingon could make him want to kill L’Rell and all Klingons even more.
How could he go from tortured soul to the newly risen Klingon leader between now and the end of the first season in 2018? With how he’s acted around the Klingons, plus him saying he’s found peace with Michael, it seems like Tyler is with the good guys, regardless of who he is underneath. In short: Tyler or Voq isn’t doing anything to Discovery except save it when push comes to shove. Once the Discovery gets what they want out of L’Rell, he’s either going to take her down or it’ll be a battle between L’Rell and Michael over Tyler. As we have seen from Michael’s fight with Kol and her slaying of T’Kuvma, she’s good at taking down Klingons.
The curious case of Stamets (thankfully) continues
With all of the telegraphing of Stamets’ Final Jump, I was expecting him to die. In fact, I was expecting him to die after the 133 jumps he was tasked with to gain information on the Klingon’s cloaking device. But I really expected his corpse to fall out of the chamber once the last jump was done. I was preparing myself for yet another Gay Person Dies As A Sacrifice trope to rear its ugly head.
Thankfully, that trope was far from Discovery’s plan. Instead, we have a very damaged Stamets to attend to. What is going in in Stamets’ brain? How is he seeing the entire cosmos in his mind and can his mind be healed? It certainly looks like he gains some superpowers in the previews of the second half of this season, though.
At any rate, it was healthy for me to see Stamets and Culber kiss onscreen. As great as the episode “Magic to Make the Sanest Person Go Mad” was, one moment left me cold – Stamets pats Culber on the shoulder. The scene played rather archaic, as if we were back in the ’90s when this staid and careful interaction could have felt revolutionary. To finally see Stamets and Culber act like a couple in love was not only great for their characters, but it was a salve for my tired mind.
Between Discovery actor Anthony Rapp revealing his abuse at the hands of Kevin Spacey to George Takei — one of the most beloved actors of my time, certainly — being accused of sexual assault, it’s been a really sad time for the Star Trek fanbase on many levels. However, Star Trek: Discovery feels increasingly like a safe space. I’d say that this entire episode could serve as the team’s statement on abuse and life after; regardless of the hell you’ve had to endure (Stamets with his obscene amount of jumping, Tyler with his literal sexual and mental abuse at the hands of L’Rell), love can still come to even the most damaged of us and offer healing. The reason Stamets has been able to stay mentally stable for so long — including during his final jump — was because of his love for Culber. The reason Tyler has been able to press on after his ordeal with the Klingons is because of the peace — and the love — he’s found with Michael.
There is still no point to CBS All Access
If we were watching this show on any other streaming service, we would be able to keep up the momentum the show has now found. Instead, while everyone overseas gets to watch all of the episodes at once on Netflix, we’re stuck with CBS All Access.
Look, I get that CBS is trying to make money. But doggonit, CBS is missing the entire point of what makes streaming services popular, and why every network or studio — even World of Wonder’s formerly free-to-watch YouTube channel WOW Presents — is now making their own streaming service. People like to pay for streaming so they 1) don’t have to watch commercials and 2) so they can watch entire seasons of their favorite shows without having to wait during fall or summer hiatuses. CBS All-Access is giving viewers of Star Trek: Discovery both of these hurdles to sit through and demand that we pay for them.
What would be great is if I could just jump to the next episode of Star Trek: Discovery right now instead of having to wait until January. But instead, I have to wait as if I’m watching this on standard TV. What’s the point of a streaming service if you’re going to treat it like ordinary television?
With that said, what do you think will happen the next time we see our crew? Where do you think they are? Could it be an alternate reality or a jump forward in time? At least we now have some time to talk about this.