Star Trek: Discovery “The Wolf Inside” review

Adam Mathew 17 January 2018

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Shrooms: Is there anything they can't do?

Things are going rather bad in bizarro world for the dimensionally-displaced crew of the U.S.S Discovery. No, wait, that should be backwards. Everything is going... great? Whatever the word, Burnham, Lorca and Tyler have successfully pretended to be their evil alter-selves in order to beam across to the I.S.S. Shenzhou, the twisted flagship of the space fascists standing in for the Federation Starfleet.

Though "Captain" Burnham isn't the one sitting in a torture box (those are the current accommodations of “empire traitor” Lorca), she's not coping well in this hate-filled universe. The alien crewmates in her original dimension, like Saru, all exist here as nameless slaves. Also, these Empire folk love nothing more than teleporting petty criminals off the ship and out into space – a pretty neat update on walking the plank. Worst of all, her only emotional support is coming from Lt Tyler, the PTSD-wracked Klingon sleeper agent who has yet to be fingered for the murder of Dr Culber.

Acting-captain Saru attributes that intra-vessel murder on the wigged-out Stamets after a crew member finds him clinging to Culber's corpse while nattering on about “the forest”. Burnham has been unable to locate the intel they need to escape this plane of existence, so Saru and Tilly attempt to restore brain function to Stamets via experimental, mycelial-based remedies. Basically, they hep him up on a 1960's-level dose of magic mushrooms. What could possibly go wrong?

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Saru decides to keep Burnham in the dark on all of this during their secret face-time meeting. Conversely, Burnham reciprocates with a heavily edited update on her mission to find intel on the mysterious U.S.S. Defiant (a ship from their dimension which somehow wound up here, despite not having the technological means to do so). When Saru asks if there are any Kelpiens like himself living aboard the I.S.S. Discovery, Burnham outright lies about the existence of her butler, Saru's dimensional twin.

Before the search for info can continue, Burnham's attention is tractor beamed away by the Empire discovering Fire Wolf, an important figurehead of the resistance. Burnham's Number One prepares to photon torpedo them from orbit (just to be sure) but her captain cracks the whip on her initiative. A better idea would be to beam down, infiltrate and collect valuable intel and then light them up. It's a solid plan to secretly meet with the other side of this conflict; however, Lorca later advises against it. Their cover is too important, he reasons – the end is going to have to justify the terrible means. It's pretty dickish stuff, even for Lorca.

Burnham follows her gut. After beaming down to the planet Harlak with Tyler, the pair promptly get ambushed and captured by a motley, multicultural crew of Vulcans, Klingons, Andorians and Tellarites. Shockingly, Fire Wolf is Voq, Klingon son of none, and his trusted advisor is Burnham's foster-father, Sarek. The humans plead their case with the resistance – they're outsiders just passing through, and they'd very much like to understand and transpose this unique coalition of races into their own dimension.

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Sarek mind-melds with Burnham and can immediately see that her intentions are pure. Unfortunately, as Voq begins to talk about the mixing of his Klingon culture with other species, it awakens the latent Klingon racism that's been hardwired into Tyler. Sporting a full Kahless rageboner, he tries to go ham on everybody in the room. Voq overpowers him and the shaky alliance is barely saved by the word of Sarek. He knows Burnham's forecast of a one-hundred percent chance of firestorm is legit, and her offer to give them an hour to evacuate should best be taken. A secret truce is established and the rebels start to bug out like it's Hoth during Skywalker hunting season.

After beaming back aboard the Shenzhou, Burnham marches Tyler off to her personal quarters and begins to dress him down (and not in a sexy way). His weirdo PTSD antics nearly got them killed and she wants to hear what he has to say for himself. Unfortunately, the speech he has is in Klingon, and it's a hate-fuelled confession. He holds a reverence, allegiance and total affection for spymaster L'Rell. The human Lt Tyler is merely a shell. There's a Klingon living under these dreamy brown eyes and stylish bangs – he is Voq, son of none, Torchbearer. Oh, yeah, he killed Dr Culber and he's pretty damned upset that Burnham ended the life of T'Kuvma.

Before this sociopathic hybrid creature can choke the life out of Burnham, slave Saru steps in and saves the day (moral of the day: always be nice to housekeeping). When I.S.S. security show up on the scene, Number One of the Shenzhou insists that Terran law be followed. Any upstart who tries to take out the captain (and fails like a noob) has to sleep with the space whales (ie, go walk the beam). Tyler agrees, but at the last second secretly whisks his energy pattern out of the vacuum and onto the U.S.S. Discovery. He's sent to the brig to be with his precious L'Rell.

It's not all good news, though. Stamet's alternative hippie medical treatment takes a turn for the worst, and a new I.S.S. vessel warps in to light up the rebels. When the planet looks like a bad day on Mustafar, a hail comes through from the captain and heretofore faceless leader of this empire. I made a bad prediction, Trekkies, the nefarious Emperor Philippa Georgiou is running this mirror-verse – not Evil Stamets.

No, Evil Stamets is a different kind of puppet-master. For the very first time, we get to see “the forest” as our version of Stamets wanders into the mycelial network and promptly meets his evil twin. “I was hoping you'd find your way in here,” he says with a grin, all decked out in full I.S.S. regalia. “Are you ready to work?”

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

Some great reveals and familiar faces are seen in this second episode after the mid-season return. This ep felt like a step down from last week, but I'm keen to see what course Star Trek Discovery will plot from here, now that Tyler and the I.S.S. emperor have been unmasked.

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