If you would like to read my review of the mid-season finale, click here.
Synopsis: While in unfamiliar territory, the U.S.S. Discovery crew is forced to get creative in their next efforts to survive opposing and unprecedented forces and return home. (IMDB)
Writers: Sean Cochran
Director: Jonathan Frakes
Running Time: 43 mins
“Despite Yourself” starts off right where the mid-season finale ended; the U.S.S. Discovery is lost in uncharted space as the crew attempts to figure out where they are. With a hostile Vulcan ship firing at the Discovery it is evident our crew has entered the Mirror Universe. First fan theory confirmed.
At this point the episode goes into the typical “assume the identities of our mirror selves” story as the Discovery attempts to find a way to get home without the aid of a now catatonic Stamets. In doing so Burnham kills the mirror counterpart of an old crew member and Tilly assumes the role of “Captain Killy” of the I.S.S. Discovery. It was fun hearing Jason Isaacs pull out a Scottish accent.
The arc thrown towards Burnham and Lorca in this universe is one of the more interesting aspects of the Mirror Universe. Lorca, captain of the Buran, still possesses power hungry qualities as he stages a coup against the Emperor and in the process kills Burnham who is captain of the Shenzhou. With all these fan theories being thrown around and how characters have similar qualities to their mirror selves I’m curious if Lorca is the Terran Universe or Mirror Universe version of himself.
Despite the risks, Lorca and Burnham decide to pose as their Mirror selves and hail Burnham’s old ship, which is under the command of Danby Connor. They are beamed over to the Shenzhou and shown the torturous ways of the empire. When Connor gets Burnham alone he attempts to kill her, but she defends herself and subdues her former crewmate to the appeasement of her new crew. While the crew continues to try to find their way in this mysterious place, the biggest development comes with Tyler.
It is all but confirmed that Ash Tyler is in fact Voq. Second fan theory confirmed. His visions are painful flashbacks to the procedure he underwent with the Klingon house known for disguise and trickery. He starts speaking Klingon to L’Rell as she says he has another name. The closeness between these characters all but screams Voq and that his return will be soon whether or not that’s a dual personality or behavioural shift within the human body of Tyler or a complete transformation back into his Klingon body. Here’s hoping it’s the former because Tyler has been one of the strong points of the show so far.
As Tyler deals with his increasing paranoia he opens up to Dr. Culber who agrees to run some tests and help figure out what’s wrong. As he tends to Stamets, Paul awakes and warns Culber that the enemy is close then falls back into his coma. At the conclusion of his tests, Culber says that Tyler’s body has been transformed by the Klingons and that he isn’t himself. Without hesitation, Tyler snaps Culber neck as Stamets echoes his sentiment: the enemy is here. UM WHAT.
The episode ends with Burnham trying to use her position to gain access to the empire’s files with no success, instead getting intimate with Tyler. Meanwhile Lorca is trapped in a torture chamber, continuously getting shocked as he screams for his life.
- Who is the Emperor of this Mirror Universe? There are two clear front runners. Sarek, which explains the Vulcan rebels who would be against his regime, or Georgiou, Burnham’s mentor and mother figure that would’ve gifted her the I.S.S. Shenzhou with her rise in power.
- Is Culber permanently dead or will he come back in some way? With how Cruz has described this as a bump in the road for their relationship it sounds like we may not have seen the end of him.
- How many more episodes until Tyler realizes who he really is? It has to be before the end of the season, but the question is will he embrace that or flip his loyalty to Burnham.
- How will Stamets’ reaction to Culber’s death? And how will the rest of the crew? Is their surveillance in sick bay?
- How will the torture affect Lorca’s character? And is he even the real Lorca?
- What does Burnham hope to find in the database to help them warp out of the Mirror Universe?
Overall, this was a fun episode. The Mirror Universe hasn’t been explored in Star Trek shows for a while and it appears it’ll be a multi-episode venture this time around. The move to this universe pushed the characters to their limits, causing them to embrace parts of their personalities they mask or are unaware exist. While this was a strong point, the episode lacks in surprise and mystery as not one, but two fan theories were confirmed which poses the question: is Discovery already too predictable? While that may be true for these fan theories, other shocking moments were less expected and keep the ship afloat aided by the strong, charismatic and ever-entertaining performances by the cast.
What did you think of “Despite Yourself”? Did you enjoy Discovery’s return? Did you have those same fan theories and what did you think of the shocking death? Let me know in the comments below!