Alright, we’ve made it to the mid-season finale. This episode, “Into the Forest I Go,” sets the Discovery crew up for a battle with a dash of problem solving. Beware: spoilers below.
I seem to keep focusing characters, but they are what makes a series go round. To me, Lorca is still unlikeable. I assume he insists on protecting the life forms on Pahvo because he never backs down from a fight. Ever. The Federation wants Lorca to run from this battle with the Klingons in order to keep the Discovery safe. Instead of reporting to Starbase 46, Lorca gives the crew 3 hours to find a solution to save their newest discovery – those new life forms. Stamets is Lorca’s cover – if he is having issues, Black Alerts are having issues. Longish story short, the captain needs Stamets to complete 133 micro-jumps in order to gather intel on the cloaked Klingon Ship of the Dead’s position. Easy. Lorca knows Stamets has suffered negative effects from the spore drive, but still pushes him to complete the jumps, and complete his mission. Lorca knows how to appeal to individuals – he can read people – he tells Stamets, “You’re not just a scientist. You’re an explorer. You’ve chosen to go where no one has gone before.” *cue music* Here, he’s appealing to the things Stamets loves to get what he wants, and he’s successful. Stamets agrees to the jumps. By the time the episode begins to wrap up, Admiral Cornwell is back in the hands of the Federation, thanks to Burnham, and it appears they want to give Lorca a medal for his actions. Actions that prevented the annihilation of the life forms on Pahvo, as well as his actions that led to the destruction of the Klingon Ship of the Dead. But he disregarded a direct order when he saved those lives. Now they want to reward him? Even Kirk was demoted to captain from admiral after stealing the Enterprise. They do have Cornwell and we know she doesn’t think the captain is fit for command. Is the Federation just trying to lure Lorca back? But he doesn’t want to go back, so he sabotages the jump, and Stamets along with it.
Our protagonist will not take no for an answer. Perhaps this quality has led her down the wrong path in the past – to mutiny – but she refuses to be left behind on the Discovery when there is work to be done. Tyler is leading the party secretly beaming onto the Klingon ship, and he wants to take Burnham with him. Lorca refuses and Burnham uses her logical reasoning skills to convince Lorca otherwise: she’s been on the Klingon ship, she’s the most qualified to place those sensors, and she’s there to help Lorca win. Burnham uses her logic as a tool to get what she wants, and we see that in action here. Once aboard the ship, Tyler and Burnham detect a human lifeform. Burnham can’t let it go. She convinces Tyler to deviate from their mission to check out the situation. Burnham is a stickler for the rules, but is more than comfortable breaking them for what she believes is best for her crew. This sounds like a quality a commander should possess. Tyler and Burnham find the Admiral on the Ship of the Dead, but as soon as Tyler sees L’Rell he suffers from a PTSD flashback and is incapacitated. Burnham, always strong: mentally, physically, and intellectually, saves the day. She sets up the sensors. She engages in hand to hand combat with the Klingon captain. She stalls so as to give Discovery extra time. She is our hero. Selfless and bold.
His reaction to seeing L’Rell is understandable based on his backstory; he’s held captive and tortured. Tyler has flashbacks to the torture he suffered at the hands of L’Rell. It looks pretty bloody and brutal. While he is incapacitated, Cornwell needs his help and uses his affection (love?) for Burnham to snap him out of his flashback. Before the crew is beamed back to Discovery, L’Rell jumps on Tyler’s back and winds up a prisoner on Discovery, as she had wished before she was discovered trying to assist Cornwell and escape. There is something strange going on here. There is a connection of some kind between Tyler and L’Rell that is unspoken. After a heart to heart with Burnham, Tyler wakes up, goes to see L’Rell in her cell, and she tells him that she’ll “never let them hurt him.” Is she infatuated with him? Is he not who he says he is? We’ll have to wait at least two months to find out, I guess.Continued below
Overall, I enjoyed this episode of Discovery. It was jam packed with action, a not overly convoluted plan, and intriguing character development. The crew worked together to solve a problem and save a newly discovered species, while destroying an enemy ship in the process. Quintessential Star Trek. But…I just can’t get past, or get into, the dark tone of the show. I don’t know if it’s me, but I don’t get that quintessential Star Trek feel of positivity and eagerness for a better future. I don’t know if it’s the obviousness of Captain Lorca’s selfish desire to wage war, if it’s how Burnham is ultimately a mutineer, if it’s because the conflict and discord between characters is prominent, or if it’s because none of these characters seem like innately good people. The real world isn’t black and white, and neither are people, but I’m not sure any of these characters are ones I’d like to be friends with. Do we want our sci-fi shows to reflect the reality of our own world? Do we want a better version of our own world? Do we want a little bit of both? Recent (I guess it depends on your definition of recent) sci-fi shows – reimagined Battlestar, The Expanse, Westworld – have all portrayed a dark, bleak world, and maybe Star Trek is just catching up with the times.
5. Random thoughts
Despite enjoying this episode, I find myself struggling to find things to write about. Maybe it’s because the episode was so well-written. Maybe it’s because I just graded 55 essays. Maybe it’s because I need more from this series. I’m not sure. I am sure that I’m hoping for conflict between Lorca and his crew. He stranded his ship and her crew in uncharted space and stranded Stamets’ brain in uncharted space in the process. I also need more answers regarding Tyler. I’ve grown to love Burnham and her ass kicking and taking names attitude, but this seems to be the person she was before she boarded the Discovery. She’s allowed herself to become more vulnerable throughout the past few episodes, and this is how she has grown. Tyler is the reason, but I’m afraid he’s also the reason she’ll get hurt after all that growth. I’d also like to see Burnham start to work alongside some other characters. Maybe Tilly. We need some growth in her friendships. I guess we’ll see what happens after this mid-season break. Later.