Star Trek Discovery “The War Without, The War Within” review

Adam Mathew 7 February 2018

star-trek-discovery-review

Terran you a new one.

Spare a thought for Specialist Michael Burnham, the recent survivor of an inter-dimensional war who now has to navigate an emotional asteroid field of socially-awkward moments. Friend-wise, she has to defend her lying to Mr. Saru about...well...whoops, eating one of his long-lost Kelpien cousins. Love-wise, she needs to break up with a man who absolutely dotes upon her but is, biologically speaking, a cross-species matryoshka doll. Such a shame. Don't you just hate it when you have to end things because your partner gets too clingy?

Speaking of thorny situations, there's the question of what to do with the rescued ex-emperor of the Terran Empire, Philippa Georgiou. Her presence aboard the heavily damaged Discovery is kept secret from the moment of her arrival, but all that changes when the Federation brass transport aboard and seize the ship. Admiral Cornwell believes the crew's tale of inter-dimensional woe – thanks to the wonderful plot device that is the Vulcan mind-meld catch-up – but she sees evil Georgiou as a sleeping tiger.

Still, it's a good day to have an extra conquering warlord on board. The Klingons have made mincemeat out of Starfleet in the nine months since the Discovery took a holiday. That said, and on the plus side, their dimensional twin, the I.S.S. Discovery got wasted early in the war. One less thing to worry about there.

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The much-sought-after Klingon cloaking algorithm is quickly sent out to the front line; however, Cornwell thinks it won't be enough to turn the tide. The Klingons are basically space ISIL at this point – suicide strikes are common, their many atrocities are poison to morale and a full third of Federation forces have been turned to slag.

Worse, Sarek explains that there's no logic to the attacks. It's just a patternless wave of aggression that comes from a non-unified Klingon empire being dragged this way and that by 24 loDyan-swinging leaders. They're essentially competing for dominance, and the Federation is fodder. Whoever kills the most crap wins and gets a Klingon gold star.

As Cornwell, Sarek and Saru debate the next decisions in this war, the Discovery starts to warp back to Starbase I, and Burnham goes for a much-needed talk with Lt. Tyler. Full credit to Sonequa Martin-Green and Shazad Latif, this complex emotional moment is incredibly well acted. Is Tyler human or Klingon? Neither or both?

The lieutenant says he can access Voqs memories, but he is still very much Tyler again. The choH'a' species reassignment protocol has changed his physiology and he's horrified by what it has made him do, but he's back in control and looking for forgiveness. Maybe even some makeup nookie.

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Burnham can't do it. Pretty words, dreamy brown eyes and luscious bangs are one thing, but there's no better way to douse the flames of passion than getting almost strangled by a lover with bloody murder in their eyes. There's also the small matter of her parents being killed by Klingons – that'll turn you off every time, too. The best the two can manage is an amicable breakup, but Ty quickly finds solace with the rest of the Discovery crew. There's a moment of high school-like solidarity where he doesn't have to eat alone in the lunchroom. Bliss. Kahless bliss, even.dsc-114-rev-starbase1

Later on, when the Discovery exits warp to find Starbase I torn to shreds, Cornwell and Sarek are shocked to their core. 274 members of House D'Ghor are happily squatting in the base and 80,000 Federation souls have been snuffed out. The Klingons are in our backyard and tactics have to change. This theory is confirmed when Cornwell has a pow-wow with the captured L'Rell; the Klingons have tasted blood and will not relent, she warns. They need to be conquered. Nothing less.

Enter evil Georgiou, who already has one utter Klingon pantsing under her belt. Burnham and Stamets already have a solid attack plan in place – teleport inside the cavernous innards of the Klingon homeworld, map military targets and feed this info to an attacking Federation fleet – but the former emperor wants to go further. To her, the planet of Qo'noS represents a tumour that has to be removed.

With the replenished spore supplies (created by Stamets terraforming a moon with what remains of their mycelial specimens), Georgiou can hand them a victory. String attached: whatever form that will take will mean it'll be a Terran one.

Cornwell and Sarek secretly make a deal with this devil and use the suppressed information of Georgiou's arrival to their advantage. Lo and behold, the crew are introduced to their new captain: Philippa Georgiou, the not-so-dead survivor of the Battle of Binaries. Yep. It's a total retcon job that does not sit well with Saru and Burnham in the slightest. Mark my words. This is gonna get ugly quicker than a Klingon speed-dating session.

Star Trek Discovery is currently streaming on Netflix Australia. Check out what else is streaming this month on Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime Video and hayu.

VERDICT

Discovery went huge last week, so this was always going to be a step down in terms of spectacle and intensity. Still, a fascinating new arc has opened up. Will a moment of Terran opportunism destroy the Federation moral high ground forever?

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