TV Reviews

Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 9: Into the Forest I Go Review

If you would like to read my review of last week’s episode, click here.

Synopsis: Bypassing Starfleet’s orders, Lorca uses the USS Discovery crew’s ultimate asset, the ship itself, in an effort to end the war with the Klingons once and for all. (IMDB)

Writers: Bo Yeon Kim & Erika Lippoldt

Director: Chris Byrne

Rating: TV-MA

Running Time: 43 mins

“Into the Forest I Go” starts off where the last episode ended. Discovery has been ordered to retreat to protect its technology from the Klingons, and Lorca reluctantly agrees. But that’s not the Lorca we’ve come to know. He informs the crew that they have a few hours in warp to come up with a plan to save Pahvo and instantly spore warp back. He turns to Stamets and tells him to go to medical and get every possible test run on him to make sure he’s okay and Stamets does not look happy about it.

And that concern for Stamets well-being quickly disappears as Lorca and the crew decide they can uncover the Klingons cloaking technology by baiting them into an attack. All that requires is a whopping 133 mini spore jumps to help the sensors complete their mission. While Stamets is obviously hesitant at first, Lorca plays to his scientific mind and explains how once the Klingons are gone they can finally get back to the prime directive. Not gonna lie, it was a moving speech he gave.

So while Discovery will be baiting the Ship of the Dead, Burnham and Tyler are beamed aboard to place the devices. They mask their human life signs and board the Klingon vessel where they run into a still living, albeit paralyzed, Admiral Cornwall and L’Rell. Unfortunately seeing the latter causes some major PTSD for Tyler with a lot of torture scene flashbacks. I don’t think it’s necessarily torture, more on that later.

As Burnham plants the devices it looks like Discovery’s plan will be a success, except Stamets is looking a little worse for wear. When Discovery finishes their 133 jumps, there is concern that the Klingons will strike while they decipher the cloaking technology, but Burnham has the perfect distraction. She’s challenged Kol, the captain of the ship, to a duel. Cue a scene to show off Burnham’s Vulcan martial arts. As the cloaking code is cracked, the crew beams Burnham, Tyler, Cornwall and a tag-along L’Rell back to the Discovery and then fire absolutely everything at the Klingons destroying the Ship of the Dead and Kol with it. The scene with Lorca taking his eyedrops to watch the explosions then turning away as they fill the shot behind him was one of the best of the series so far.

The episode ends with Starfleet calling Lorca back to receive a medal for helping in a decisive victory for the war. He’s humbled by it, but believes Stamets should receive the award after one last jump. As Stamets prepares the spore drive, Lorca puts in his own coordinates and prepares the Discovery to go home. But something goes wrong with the spore drive and causes Stamets to go blind, leaving the Discovery floating through uncharted space. Oh and L’Rell almost definitely confirmed a major fan theory!

Questions

  • What is Stamets’ condition and will he recover?
  • Did Lorca bring them “home”?
  • What did L’Rell mean in her conversation to Tyler?
  • Is Tyler really who he appears to be? Does he even know?
  • With the spore drive out of commission, how will Discovery find its way home?
  • Is the conflict with the Klingons temporarily done?

First off, I’m not a huge fan of mid-season finales. I always see it as an excuse by a writing team to put two major cliffhangers in one season. Typically shows that are 20ish episodes have a mid-season finale that wraps up part of the season arc, but in turn adds a lot of filler episodes to help prolong the length. Here is my issue with Star Trek Discovery in that regard.

Discovery’s first season will be 15 episodes, meaning that the second half to this season will be a mere 6 episode return. Recently the production came out and called the two halves “Chapter One” and “Chapter Two” respectively. While not every question was answered in this mid-season finale, one of the most prominent arcs has finished. So why divide one 15-episode season into two chapters rather than create two 10-episode seasons surrounding the stories that will be told within these two halves? It’s not like audiences would complain about more stand-alone science and exploration-centric stories. Is it because “Chapter Two” doesn’t have enough story to be considered a full season on its own? Only time will tell.

Anyway, back to the episode where a lot both happened and yet didn’t. We finally got to see the advantage the spore drive brings to a fight and the story regarding the Ship of the Dead is complete. But at the same time there are a lot of things this episode glossed over. The Pahvans are basically next to non-existent in this story other than as a plot device, but the biggest issue is that this episode feels disjointed from the rest of the season. Characters act in ways that seem counterproductive to the development they’ve had all season, in particular Captain Lorca and Stamets. Now whether or not their actions are for unknown ulterior means is still to be seen, but it feels like this episode was written as a finale attached to the pilot that needed some filler episodes added in between.

Shout-out to the performances this season so far by Jason Isaacs and Anthony Rapp. They steal every scene they are in, and this episode had a lot of moments between the two of them. It will be interesting to see how their unique dynamic changes going forward. Also did anyone else pick up on the not so subtle Rent reference in this episode?

As for the cliffhangers and fan theories, I’ll give my two-cents now that “Chapter One” has concluded. Lorca definitely brought them “home” to the Mirror Universe (where everyone is opposite). When Lorca’s first ship went down he somehow was swapped with his Mirror Universe counterpart, which is why he appears to be a much more war-focused Captain in the eyes of his long-time friend Admiral Cornwall. His “mirror” self would be more focused on war than science and a spore jump to a completely different universe would be too much for Stamets to handle. It’ll be interesting to see how long they stay in the Mirror Universe, or if the show plans to stay there indefinitely. It would help fix any continuity issues the series has with the shared universe.

Stamets is becoming more and more omnipotent and one with the universe, causing him to separate from his human self. I wonder if this means they’ll pick up the Mirror Stamets before they leave? And onto the biggest theory: is Ash Tyler really Voq in disguise? I’m going 100% with yes. We haven’t heard from Voq since L’Rell sent him to the Klingon Masters of Disguise and Tyler’s torture flashbacks look more like body changing procedures if anything. If that’s true then it really stinks because Tyler has become such a great character on the show so to see him leave would create a big whole in the cast. There’s no way he stays on the ship as Voq if he changes back, but maybe he’s stuck in this human form forever?

Overall, this was a good episode. While some story elements are glossed over to focus on wrapping up the major arc, the mid-season finale is filled with great character moments, monologues, and a ton of cliffhangers to help set up “Chapter Two.”

This is the show I expected Discovery to be. It tackles the science versus military dilemma admirably while having strong ethical and moral themes. It took a few episodes to bring the science aspects into the forefront, but so far Discovery is on course.

Score: 8/10

What did you think of “Into the Forest I Go”? Did you enjoy Discovery’s mid-season finale? Let me know in the comments below! Remember the show returns on January 7th!

If you liked this, check out my other reviews here as well as my channel and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and like me on Facebook.

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