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STAR TREK DISCOVERY “The War Without, The War Within” Review

By on February 5, 2018

“The War Without, the War Within” — Episode 114 — Pictured (l-r): Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham; Jayne Brook as Admiral Cornwell; Michelle Yeoh as Philippa Georgiou; James Frain as Ambassador Sarek of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Jan Thijs/CBS






Discovery Comes Home to the Good, the Bad, and the Muddled Middle

So, last we left Discovery, she was back in her own universe, but having discovered that they accidentally jumped forward nine months on the way back. In that time, the Klingons have gained significant traction in the war, and the Federation is all but decimated. So that’s the bad news.

The good news is, Tyler has apparently been deprogrammed, and over the course of the episode, Stamets manages to grow a new colony of spores; in fact, he manages to create a whole moon worth. Also, Admiral Cornwell is alive and has managed to make her way to the Discovery, along with Sarek, where they fill the crew in on the disastrous news of the war. However, it’s  worse than they believed, with a starbase close to Earth taken over by a faction of Klingons.

And in the middle of this is Michael. Where does she belong, and where does her fate rest? Both of her mentors are gone, although since she brought back Mirror Georgiou, and Sarek is aboard, she has a few guideposts. But then there’s Tyler. And her reason for not being in prison is gone, but then again so is most of the organization that tried to imprison her. Michael’s a mess, basically.

How to Win a Hopeless War?

Shortly after Discovery arrived home, Cornwell boarded, and with the help of a mind meld from Sarek, learned where Discovery had been and what she had been through, along the likely fate of this universe‘s Lorca. Then she took command. The first goal was to head for Starbase one, where most of the federations remaining leaders gathered – only to find it had been taken over by one of the more ruthless Klingon factions, with no trace of the 80,000 humans aboard.

That left Discovery somewhat adrift – without immediate direction as to how to proceed. There was the revelation that Tyler has had his Klingon programming removed, and Cornwell met up with Emperor Georgiou, the first of whom is more or less stripped of his power, but left to wander the ship as he chooses. The latter is more or less imprisoned but, ordered to be kept comfortable as a “guest” until she can be transported and what is left of Starfleet can figure out what to do with her.

When what is left of Starfleet command finally gets hold of the ship, their orders are for Discovery to join the fleet in the protection of Earth, but Michael has started down another path thanks to Georgiou. She and Admiral Cornwell – aided by a conversation with L’Rell, who says that the Klingons will not stop until they’re conquered – want to go directly to the Klingon homeworld, jump inside the tunnels beneath the planet, and compromise their security to the point that it will force the Klingons to retreat. Stamet’s undertakes little rapid spore growth program so that they can achieve this jump.

At least that’s the plan as everyone knows it to this point. But, Mirror Georgiou has some other ideas. She summons Sarek to talk about Michael, saying she fears that like the daughter in her universe, this Michael is perhaps too trusting and too hopeful (which she sees as weak) to understand the true damage that must be done in order to survive this kind of situation. But of course the very dark Georgiou knows exactly how to crush the Klingons for good, and she will help in exchange for her freedom. Sarek says Michael is probably stronger than she knows, given that she saw through Lorca when Mirror Michael did not. But, he sees the logic in the woman’s plan and so takes it to Cornwell who agrees, which leads to “Captain” Georgiou taking the bridge of the Discovery on the way to the Klingon homeworld.

Recovering Yourself in the Midst of the Impossible

This entire season has been about Michael’s world being turned upside down over and over again, challenging everything she knows repeatedly. As we approach the finale of season one for Discovery, it feels as if we are close to seeing the results of all that tumbling around. But at the moment, we seem to be at the particularly messy part.

For Michael, certainly – as we said, all of her mentors have been removed and readjusted and changed positions. Not only that but add Tyler to the mix and things get even more awkward. She loved him, but when she looks at him she still sees the man who tried to kill her. And for now, that seems like an impossible place for her to be. Conversely, she seems to want to fix Georgiou – freeing her to a place of morality and hoping that it will perhaps make her more like her own former captain and mentor. All of this feels like it’s leading to her perhaps finally coming to a real sense of who she is the end of all of this, though she admits to Tyler, she’s not there yet. Look for that to perhaps come to a head in the finale.

And then there is Tyler himself. Programmed, if you will, radicalized. And then the program but with all of the information in his memory of his former state in place. And no real position among the crew although, Tilly tries to at least put him in a place to feel like a person. But he feels like he needs Michael as his anchor, and she’s not willing to be that right now. So where does that leave him?

It seems as though there will be some pretty substantial shifts coming in this next episode, and if Discovery has taught us anything it is to expect the unexpected – but also to remember where we’ve been to look for clues. How will it all come together? See you back here next week to find out.

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