Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Star Trek Discovery: Season 1, Episode 14: The War Without, The War Within

Michael brought Georgiou to the Discovery and she gets to meet Saru

Remember when Lorca was alive and the show tried to pretend Georgiou was the good one so we could support one fascist over another fascist? Well Lorca’s dead now. No more pretence - she calls Saru a slave and tells him how much she likes eating his kind.

Saru is not amused. Georgiou is dumped in “guest” quarters while he confronts Michael about the lie she told (she told him there were no Kelpians in Terraverse) but she points out, reasonably, she was trying to spare him pain. Saru, who is always very reasonable, accepts that and also accepts the impossibly difficult, painful yet successful mission she just managed to pull off.

He also brings her up to speed on the state of Tyler - and apparently L’rell’s brain fiddling has turned him into a full Tyler rather than a full Loq. Which I guess is a little surprising but then consider just how much Voq would want to be running around in a human body with his cover well and truly blown? He wants Michael to visit Tyler, but unless he makes it an order (which it definitely isn’t), Michael opts out of seeing the man she loved who then tried to strangle her.

Tyler can access Voq’s memories but they don’t feel like his own -he’s basically all human now: though he does describe how utterly awful the whole species transformation thing was. Saru is quick to assure Tyler that all of his actions while Voq were not his own - he isn’t facing trial or punishment not is he to be confined to the brig. He is getting a tracking bracelet because Saru isn’t a fool - but is generally treated with compassion.

Stamets doesn’t share said compassion and wants Tyler to feel all the guilt forever. Which is good because I think I would explode if this show took its Kill the Gays moment and then has Stamets forgive Culber’s killer, especially given everyone else pretty much forgetting him

The rest of the crew may be leery but Tilly isn’t, eating with the isolated Tyler in the mess because she’s just made of heart and niceness and is the epitome of what the Federation is: and quickly encourages everyone else to accept him back into the fold.

While they’re getting themselves together, the ship is boarded. By Admiral Cornwell and Sarek - who quickly establishes they’re legit by Mind-melding Saru

Ok is this a thing? Because I seemed to recall Mind Melds weren’t exactly that common? Sarek seems to have replaced the handshake with the random unwanted mind-meld.

Time for everyone to recap everyone else on mirror worlds, the war, Georgiou, Lorca and oooooh sooo much. Cornwell is clearly megapissed Lorca was evil and she didn’t notice and accepts her own Lorca is probably very very dead. Georgiou is 8 levels of complicated and they’re dealing with that by making her a guest (prisoner), swearing everyone to secrecy and pretending she isn’t there until someone can actually deal with it. Michael insists she’s technically escaping political persecution so due asylum, Georgiou won’t have that because she’s a Terran while Cornwell is more We Have Other Priorities, stick a pin in it.

The war is a trainwreck. The Federation are losing very very badly, thousands upon thousands are dead, most of the Federation fleet and sharing the cloaking code doesn’t really do much to turn the tide when they’ve already lost so much. The Klingons are not united - with the death of both T’Kuvma and Kol there’s no-one to organise them. So now you have 24 houses now exactly fighting with tactics but each competing with the other to basically destroy as much of the federation as possible to show off how dangerous they are. It’s not a war, it’s a dick measuring contest with casualties

They decide to go to Star Base 1 and hide out for a time - only to find that it has fallen to the Klingons. Cornwell falls apart at the staggering loss and Saru is the one who effortlessly steps in to both get them to safety and to, very politely, remind the Admiral she’s supposed to be leading them and can she get her shit together now.

Time for people to try other options. Cornwell turns to L’rell, relying on them having a connection of mutual respect after their capture - which they do. L’rell isn’t super happy about the war either; sure she still parrots the Federation’s assimilation and homogenisation goal but she doesn’t like the idea of the Klingon Empire being 24 warring houses, again. That’s exactly what T’kuvma opposed. But she has no help to offer - the Klingons will keep attacking until they win, it’s what Klingons do

This whole debate about assimilation et al would mean more if the Klingons were actually more than raging killing machines of massacreness.

While Michael goes to Georgiou to ask how the Terrans managed to beat the Klingons - basically by out Klingoning them and attacking Qo’noS

She also talks about Sarek and learns he’s a father figure as Georgiou was a mother figure to Terran Michael. And throws in some digs about how Michael is weak because she’s clinging to evil!Georgiou even knowing she’s not HER Georgiou.

Michael takes this plan to the Admiral and she gets star fleet to agree: they teleport to Qo’noS using magical mushrooms spores (they get more from woo-woo), into one of the caves the Federation doesn’t know is there, but Goergiou does, and then use it to scan the planet, identify all of its defences and then destroy them, forcing the Klingons to pull back. It’s aggressive and not a Federation plan but, as Sarek points out, Federation tactics ain’t doing so well.

He also goes to meet Georgiou for some anti-vulcan contempt and so they can play “my Michael is better than your Michael” but also so Georgiou can give him the rest of the plan. The logical Sarek more likely to receive it than the overly fluffy Michael. Destroying Qo’noS’s defences will not stop the Klingons: in the Terranverse Qo’noS is a smoking pile of ash - they need to devastate the planet

Sarek hears her before going to have a wonderful moment with Michael which is full of understanding and reassurance and praising her willingness to love because he’s suddenly not a Vulcan or something?

Hey, want to develop the idea that the Federation promotes homogenisation and assimilation? Keep showing me the Vulcan extolling the value of love. That’ll do it.

Leaving Sarek who has been apparently bodysnatched by a sappy romance song

We have a much better emotional moment when, prompted by Tilly, Michael goes to see Tyler. And Tyler’s…. Kind of a fuckboy here.

While Michael is wary about jumping back into a relationship with him he accuses her of still having abandonment issues over her parents’ death. Which is the lowest of low blows

Michael can’t just get past the fact the man she loved tried to strangle her. And she keeps seeing that. Also she did tell him when he was struggling and he didn’t - that was on Tyler, not Voq

He says love is what saved him - and he needs her to get by.

But she says no - and can we take a moment to cheer this? Just because your lover needs you doesn’t mean you have a duty to be there for them. Self-care, agency, etc doesn’t go out the window because a guy says he needs you

And Michael needs to do her own healing. She reminds us all, since it’s easy to have forgotten, she is herself just healing from the worst moment of her life: when she betrayed Georgiou and saw her die at the Battle of the Binary Stars. She has been rebuilding herself since then - and she needs to focus on that. And that’s a long, difficult task she needs to do alone. Without Tyler

More cheers for Michael here. I can’t stress this enough:

Time to begin the battle - and the Admiral makes a kind of… scary speech. Her speech seems very much like getting in her defence. She’s going to do something terrible and she knows it so she’s pre-justifying herself.

Because she’s chosen who is going to lead this. “Captain Georgiou”

Michael and Saru have equal “what the fuck” faces.

So, prediction: the Michael Burnham who once made a terrible mistake, committed mutiny against Captain Georgious because she disagreed with the Captain’s noble adherence to Star Fleet values rather than the more aggressive tactic she favoured, is going to mutiny against Evil Georgiou in the name of Star Fleet values rather than the genocidal tactics Georgiou favours. Thereby coming full circle with All Michael Has learned.

There’s just too much here to explore! This is the problem for Discovery since the beginning and why, in so many ways, it doesn’t work. No, that’s unfair. It does work - but it doesn’t work as well as it could because it simply cannot use all it has - so instead half uses everything.

The whole Klingon/Federation war could have been an excellent conversation about homogenisation, cultural imperialism et al: instead it was largely ignored and we propped up with it all but pre-won

We could have had the dark captain Lorca with a long debate on what the Federation wants to be and the cost of its morals. But then we just had Evil!Lorca. And now we just have Evil!Georgiou basically stepping into the same shoes and oh dear gods this whole storyline was a chance to explore Terran vs Federation and what values matter but we never really built that because we had magic mushrooms and Voq and who knows what else

Or Michael. This episode awesomely points out that she is crawling back from her lowest moment - the Battle from the Binary Stars. Why. Do. We. Not. See. This?! We had, like, 3 episodes of this and then Michael was kind of just a member of the crew?

The Klingon’s fight for identity and meaning, led by an outcast who is largely shunned by the House structure and L’rell from another house not largely thought of, struggling to bring unity…. Nah, Tyler spy, Klingons just kill shit for funsies

Hey, Tyler: Human/Klingon hybrid with L’rell lurking making thinsg complicated and - nah, human with MANPAIN

Stop introducing concepts that, any one of which, are episodes upon episodes of development and then throw out all the potential raised! We have SEASONS of material and meta here. Seasons on seasons. This lot should be taking us to season 5! Not crammed into one season