The following are a few notes I took while watching Star Trek Discovery Season 1 Episode 11. Warning: mild spoilers may be included, though I’ve tried to stay away from including anything too glaring. Either way, consider yourself warned.
Last weeks mid-season return stranded the crew of the Discovery in the Mirror Universe, and Star Trek Discovery Season 1 Episode 11 continues that story arc. If the Mirror Universe sounds familiar, it’s because there’s a long history of such episodes in Star Trek. Honestly, it’s good to see Discovery dipping its toes in the kind of stories that tie into the rest of the franchise.
All things considered, this wasn’t a terrible episode but it wasn’t a great one either. Honestly, it reminded me of one of those slow-paced building episodes of The Walking Dead. It seems as though everyone hates those episodes, preferring action, but truthfully I kind of like them. They allow time for both character development and to move all of the pieces into place for the story to eventually jump forward. Star Trek Discovery Season 1 Episode 11 felt a lot like that to me.
Also—at the risk of seeming a bit fascist-friendly—I absolutely adore the Mirror Universe Terran Empire uniforms. They look badass.
One thing I was really enjoying was how they were initially portraying the whole Ash Tyler/Voq Manchurian Candidate situation. I mean, I hope I’m not spoiling it for anyone, but that reveal of what had previously been a popular fan theory occurred in the previous episode. Hopefully, that means everyone who is going to watch has seen it by now.
Interestingly, something obviously went wrong in Voq’s conditioning. The mantra they got from T’Kuvma was obviously supposed to wake him up so to say. It was clear to see, however, that he did not initially react in the way expected. And that’s where the story had the potential to be particularly riveting. It would have been easy enough for them to go the route of portraying him simply as an evil sleeper agent, but in the end they chose something much more complicated and satisfying. Instead of a clear-cut bad guy, he was deeply confused and frightened. Even the murder for which he was responsible last week was essentially a panic reaction. Personally, I think a more conflicted gray character is much more engrossing than a cartoonish villain. In the end, I only wish their choice to take things in that direction had gone on longer. Maybe I’m asking too much, since there’s only a couple of episodes left in the season, but I would really have enjoyed seeing more of that.
My biggest complaints about the episode essentially revolve around how certain things were handled. As I explained above, I hate that the whole Ash Tyler/Voq thing is already over. There was quite a lot of potential for more story there, but now it’s too late. Obviously, that’s not to say they won’t still be able to go somewhere very interesting. Time will have to tell.
I also had a lot of trouble with the idea that you can be in the middle of a negotiation, have someone attempt an assassination, then quickly get everything back on track and resolved for the good in just moments. That felt like really forced writing, in my opinion. Things could have been handled differently and better, but in the end it’s still Star Trek and I still love it. We also had another popular fan theory confirmed in the identity of the mysterious Terran Emperor. Unfortunately, the reveal kind of fizzled and rotted on the vine. The best thing I can say about that, honestly, is that we can now move on without all of the theorizing.
It doesn’t pertain to Star Trek Discovery Season 1 Episode 11, per se, but there’s also still something I’m not sure about. Namely, it’s how they’re going to reconcile Michael’s relationship to Sarek and Spock in the greater canon of the Star Trek franchise. After all, we’ve gotten pretty deeply involved with Spock without him ever mentioning his older human foster sister. While the current show has been a bit tight on details, we know from other canon sources that Michael is four years older than Spock. She was born in 2226—making her 30 years old in Discovery—and he was born in 2230.
What I’m getting at here is that it’s not like she was grown and gone before he would remember her. The two would have shared much of their upbringing. That’s going to make it a little difficult to figure out why he never mentions her existence. Of course, she does hold the distinction of being the first ever mutineer in Starfleet. The thing is Spock is not exactly the type to distance himself from such a relationship out of any sort of embarrassment. He would completely reject the idea that her reputation might hurt his career as illogical. And that doesn’t even consider the fact that she may very well redeem herself throughout the run of the current show. Anyway, I’m probably being nitpicky, but it’s definitely something the writers are going to have to wrestle with.