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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Confronting The Wolf Inside


"The Wolf Inside" establishes definitively that poor Ash Tyler was the Klingon Voq all along, surgically altered and overlaid with Tyler's personality to appear human. To my mind, this somewhat blunts what I thought was an important and interesting examination of post-traumatic stress disorder, trading it for subterfuge and intrigue. Everyone saw this coming, so I'm not surprised, but I am somewhat disappointed. 

On the other hand, this revelation (or rather, clarification) certainly raises the stakes for Michael Burnham, who, on top of all her other issues, now knows she fell in love with a Klingon spy, with all the attendant betrayal that entails. To complicate matters still further, it appears as though the Ash Tyler personality implant/overlay is making it hard for Voq to take control, or at least to maintain it. And now that he's been revealed, surely Tyler/Voq has been neutralized as a threat, which makes you wonder where this story was going in the first place. 

On to other matters. This week, the Discovery's crew continues their mission to steal the technological data necessary to make their way back to the so-called "prime" universe without falling afoul of their evil counterparts. To that end, Michael Burnham makes contact with something she calls a "coalition of hope," the assembled Mirror Klingons, Andorians, Tellarites and Vulcans who stand in opposition to the evil Terran Empire, the our peaceful Federation's dark counterpart. 

As in last week's episode, the creators manage to create a palpable sense of jeopardy for our heroes, trapped in a dark reflection of their own reality; "Even the light is different," Burnham remarks. First Officer Saru's Mirror counterpart serves as slave labour in this reality, denied even a name. And we continue to be shown the duplicitous and savage nature of the human beings in this universe, who show not the smallest fraction of the humanity and compassion displayed by the alien rebels. If nothing else, this storyline comes at an opportune time, as people in our reality are reminded once again that we are often our own worst enemies. 

There's a bit of derring-do bait-and-switch action in this episode that fooled me in a delightful way at a pivotal moment, and the final reveal was, if somewhat predictable, still powerful - and puzzling, given Captain Lorca's sinister, smiling reaction to seeing the face of power in the Mirror Universe. One gets the impression that Lorca has been planning this journey all along...

There's one more note of mystery as we see the internal voyage of coma-ridden Stamets, who meets with a duplicate - perhaps from the Mirror Universe, perhaps not - in a hallucinatory alien forest. What wonders might unfold here? 

While not as strong as the previous pair of outings, "The Wolf Inside" remains solid, if uneven, entertainment. There's certainly a lot to unpack in each episode of Discovery, so much so that it may take until the end of the first season to see if it all hangs together in a coherent and satisfying way. 

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