Sunday, June 09, 2019

Star Trek: Discovery -- Season 1 Episode 10 (Despite Yourself)

When you have a television franchise, there’s a certain dilemma.  The advantage of having a history like that of Star Trek allows for a lot of stories to be carried over from one series to another.  The Enterprise would occasionally visit Deep Space Nine.  Voyager would call on events that happened in the Dominion War or that happened in the movies.

If you do that too much, you run the risk of seeming uncreative.  True, Discovery has already called upon previous incarnations.  Michael Burnham is the foster daughter of Sarek.  Harry Mudd has already made two appearances.  To do this too often might undermine Discovery as a separate entity.  Then again, maybe not.

The previous episode had the U.S.S. Discovery jump into the Mirror Universe.  This was established in the original series episode Mirror, Mirror.  Instead of a federation, Earth is at the head of the Terran Empire.  The crew of the Discovery finds out that humans are ruthless and will conquer any alien race they come across.  Fighting them are the Klingons, apparently with the help of Vulcans and Andorians.

The episode is spent mostly getting the crew acclimated to the other universe.  Cadet Sylvia Tilly is now the captain of the Discovery.  Burnham’s alternate was presumed dead at the hands of Captain Lorca’s alternate, which provides them with a challenge when hailed by another ship.  Tilly, who’s normally talkative and nervous, has to put on a brave face (or voice, actually) and get rid of the other captain.

It does provide them with an opportunity.  Whereas the U.S.S. Shenzhou was destroyed, the I.S.S. Shenzhou is still out there.  So, the crew has to make the U.S.S. Discovery look like the I.S.S. Discovery an have everyone get used to being more ruthless.  This way, Burnham can take Lorca and Tyler to the Shenzhou and get more information on how to get home.

This is the kind of episode that’s going to be confusing for people that have never watched Star Trek.  There are references to at least two Star Trek episodes.  Even for someone who’s seen the episodes, it can be a lot to keep up with.  Then again, if you’re paying for CBS All Access so you can watch Discovery, there’s a good chance you’re not a casual viewer.

As I’ve noted with other mirror-universe episodes, it’s odd that everyone has a counterpart.  (Well, almost everyone.  No mention is made of Saru’s counterpart.)  It’s not clear when or how this other universe split from ours.  It does go back to Star Trek: Enterprise, to say the least.  How probable is it that everyone has a counterpart in both universes?

This does pose a problem, since Burnham’s alternate is presumed dead and Lorca’s is on the run.  There’s a chance, however small, that either one will show up at some point and create problems for the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery.  There’s also the issue of what happened to the I.S.S. Discovery.  Was it destroyed or was it transported to the Federation’s universe?  I imagine some answers will be forthcoming during the rest of the episode.

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