The darkness continued this week with Star Trek: Discovery’s second foray into the Mirror Universe, The Wolf Inside. With no plan yet for how to get back to their reality — what Trek fans call the prime reality — the crew of the U.S.S. Discovery, posing as the crew of the Terran Empire’s I.S.S. Discovery, are doing what they can to get home while Michael Burnham, captaining the I.S.S. Shenzhou, works to minimize collateral damage while simultaneously pretending to be a bloodthirsty psychopath. Sure it’s a difficult part to play, but if anyone can do it, it’s the woman who, when in a previous command position, knocked out her captain so that she could fire unprovoked on an unfamiliar alien ship.
Strangely, though, Burnham’s attempts to minimize the collateral damage caused by her newfound captaincy only seem to apply to non-Terrans. The disregard Burnham showed for Connor Danby’s life in “Despite Yourself” compared to the almost maternal regard she showed for the rebel forces in this episode highlighted that Burnham is doing her best to hide in plain sight in a pit of vipers but also drew focus to how single-minded the character apparently is.
Star Trek: Discovery – The Wolf Inside – Suus Mahna Mahna
Burnham’s reasoning, honed on Vulcan don’t cha know, seems to admit a pretty shabby philosophy concerning life in the Mirror Universe: oppressed aliens are good, but Terrans, who are also oppressed by the Terran Empire, are evil and may be disposed of if necessary. For those who say that Burnham was forced to kill Connor Danby in self defense, I refer you to her adeptness in the Vulcan martial art of Suus Mahna and entreat you, couldn’t she have neck-pinched him instead? Or at the very least, to give Enterprise fans a thrill she could have evaded Danby’s blade by employing the time-honoured navorkot move.
Star Trek: Discovery – The Wolf Inside – Lt. Voqler
I am sad to admit that my pet theory, that Lt. Tyler is a surgically altered T’Kuvma were proven false. Instead, the far more likely rumour, that Lt. Tyler is a surgically altered Voq proved true. I probably should have known, but I had hoped that L’Rell’s promise to Voq that she would introduce him to powers beyond his imagining might be a foreshadowing of an introduction of a Guardian of Forever or some other such cosmic and semi-mystical piece of Star Trek franchise history. Either way, I’m glad the targ is out of the bag and we can get on to exploring more interesting ideas.
Star Trek: Discovery – The Wolf Inside – Facial Hair Runs in the Family
One favourite among many fans, and a serious nod to Star Trek franchise history was Mirror-Sarek’s goatee. For the few viewers not in the know, Mirror-Spock, who appeared in the first Mirror Universe episode “Mirror, Mirror” in the original Star Trek, also sported a goatee. Like revolutionary father, like revolutionary son, I suppose.
For me, though, the most interesting part of Burnham’s introduction to the rebel forces wasn’t Sarek’s goatee or Tyler’s outburst at Mirror-Voq. Instead, what piqued my interest, albeit negatively, was Burnham’s implication that the logic necessary to bring Andorians, Klingons, and Vulcans together somehow mystified her. When describing this unlikely truce between alien races to Loraca, Burnahm made it sound as if she expected Mirror-Voq or Mirror-Sarek to tell her a secret code word or teach her a magic spell that would convince disparate alien races to work together toward a common purpose. Maybe she’s never heard of the IDIC?
Star Trek: Discovery – The Wolf Inside – Andorians are hotheaded, Vulcans are logical, Klingons are traditional, Humans are … racist?
Time and again, Discovery falls back into the familiar racism by analogy that makes Star Trek’s original series, and even Star Trek: The Next Generation at times, seem outdated. There’s no reason to paint all Andorians, Klingons, or Vulcans with the same brush. Writers who do so ignore the juiciest philosophy the Star Trek franchise has to offer, that from diversity comes strength and unity, in favour of showing Burnham as a kind of space crusader, blindly adhering to her traditional and prejudiced point of view by defining every alien she meets only as a caricature-like depiction of the culture that alien represents. Shouldn’t a human raised on Vulcan by mixed-race adoptive parents know that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover?
Star Trek: Discovery – The Wolf Inside – Paradox City
Still no definite indication that the Lorca we’ve seen since the first episode is or isn’t originally from the Mirror Universe. And, as others have pointed out, if the U.S.S Discovery is in the Mirror Universe posing as the I.S.S. Discovery, then wouldn’t the actual I.S.S. Discovery be in the prime reality posing as the U.S.S Discovery? Captained by the bloodthirsty Captain Tilly, one wonders what they’ve been up to. Viewers have yet to get a glimpse at any members of the I.S.S Discovery’s crew except for Mirror-Stamets, seen by Stamets while he was in some kind of death-like trance state.
Viewers were also treated to the triumphant return of Michelle Yeoh, this time as Empress Georgiou. Unless Georgiou turns out to be a descendant of Star Trek: Enterprise’s Hoshi Sato, it appears that the Sato dynasty, which gained supremacy over the Terran Empire at the beginning of 2155 (Star Trek: Enterprise “In a Mirror, Darkly Part II”), was eventually toppled in favour of the Georgiou dynasty. This might upset some fans of the Enterprise novels, one of which describes the Sato dynasty spanning 122 years, finally being toppled by the revolutionary Mirror-Spock in 2277.
Star Trek: Discovery – The Wolf Inside – Canon Ready
Although Discovery’s creative team have been playing a bit fast and loose with Star Trek canon in previous episodes, their attention to Mirror Universe plot details established in Enterprise seems more or less on point. In fact, the data that Burnham extracted from the U.S.S. Defiant was a double reference to both Star Trek’s “The Tholian Web” and Enterprise’s “In a Mirror, Darkly” parts I and II. So, if the creative team is interested in preserving the part of that narrative that involves the U.S.S Defiant, it seems possible that they’ll also preserve the idea of the Sato dynasty.
One final thought, with The Wolf Inside, Discovery has now surpassed Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Star Trek: Voyager in number of episodes involving the Mirror Universe. And based on the fact that the crew of the Discovery is still stranded in the home of the Terran Empire after two episodes, it seems that Discovery will similarly surpass Star Trek: Enterprise. But, with five episodes concerning the dark and violent timeline, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine will be difficult for Discovery to catch. Then again, with four episodes left in this season, Discovery has an opportunity to surpass DS9 in only one season.
The Wolf Inside
This episode was, comparatively, a pretty good one, but it still suffered from a generally lazy approach to writing in a few sections. That Burnham wanted to determine how Vulcans, Andorians, Tellarites, and Klingons were able to coexist peacefully seemed like a convenient excuse to have her and Tyler meet with the rebels so that Tyler could reveal himself as Voq. Burnham's curiosity surrounding inter-species diplomacy seemed valid, but learning the fundamentals of the same seems like something Burnham probably should have learned at the Vulcan Science Academy.