Star Trek: Discovery comes to a compelling if somewhat predictable mid-season conclusion as the ship and crew find themselves somewhere after hacking the Klingon’s cloaking capabilities, destroying the sarcophagus Klingon ship, rescuing Admiral Cornwell, and taking one last failed spore-jump to Starbase 46.
I’m going to forego a more lengthy synopsis and just go ahead and address the elephant in the room, and the identity of Lt. Ash Tyler. Many fans have decried the theory of Tyler-is-Voq as something akin to a spoiler alert; in truth, it has been nothing more than just that – a theory, and a pretty compelling one given the clues.
And although “Into the Forest I Go” doesn’t resolve the theory directly, it certainly lends more meat to it, especially given the mysterious abuse flashbacks, L’Rell’s expected reunion with him, and her vow to “never let them hurt you” when Tyler asks her, “What did you do to me?”
One could certainly argue that Tyler’s PTSD flashbacks when confronting L’Rell revealed nothing more than moments of torture, and not body-altering surgery. But one has to ask: if Tyler was so cherished by L’Rell during his captivity, why would she allow him to be pointlessly and dangerously mutilated, as those flashbacks seem to indicate, unless there was some purpose to it all.
The show to this point has continued to raise more questions than answer, which makes it as much a frustrating experience to watch as a captivating one. It’s at least clear now, with L’Rell aboard Discovery as a prisoner (or defector), we’ll be heading down a path to better understanding Tyler and who he is.
The writers have taken great pains to keep L’Rell front-and-center in the Klingon portion of the story. Now that’s she finally aboard Discovery (something that she wanted anyway, lest we forget), it would be an awful waste not to have her reunion with Tyler really mean something in the overall story. And, too, unlike other well-perched characters up to now (Georgiou, Landry, Kol), L’Rell has been able to escape certain death on more than one occasion. She’s been shot twice and imprisoned for offenses and is still chugging along. There has to be reason for that.
Honestly, when it comes to Tyler, I’d be content at this point if he turns out to be exactly what he is – just Ash Tyler. He’s proven himself to be a wonderful companion for Michael Burnham. His intimate scene with Burnham where he describes his experiences as L’Rell’s prisoner is one of the best the show has given us, owing in no small way to the superb performances of both Shazad Latif and Sonequa Martin-Green.
To this point, Discovery has been lean and plot-focused with few incidental character scenes. Burnham and Tyler have provided heart to what is essentially a dark and nervous show. It would be a shame to lose that for the sake of a buzz-worthy plot twist.
Jason Isaacs continues to play Lorca with precision and Lorca’s talents as a manipulator are evident. For a show that advertised itself early on as one that would not be captain-focused, Discovery has been remarkably interested in Lorca. When Lorca is called to Starbase 54 to accept the Legion of Honor for his work destroying the sarcophagus ship and protecting the Pahvans, one has to wonder if Lorca even trusts his superiors at this point — especially given Cornwell’s earlier threats to relieve him of command — and may even welcome the “unexpected” detour into an alternate reality.
And it can’t be just coincidence that we got a close-up of Lorca monkeying around with the spore drive coordinates just as the Discovery took its last jump of the episode.
For all its terrific character moments – of which Discovery has never been in short supply – “Into the Forest I Go,” as an action episode, is frustratingly flat. What should have been a tense nail-bitter of a show is undone by some fairly pedestrian directing, especially aboard the Klingon ship, and a surprisingly subdued musical score.
Let’s hope that Discovery doesn’t settle into the feared whole-note approach to scoring that became something of an affliction during the series’ Rick Berman era.
By moving Discovery away from the Klingon war, at least temporarily, and into a Voyager-like uncharted realm, as shown at the episode’s conclusion, Discovery is finally taking flight with the promise of exploration and compelling encounters.
The final debris-field scene may not have offered the kind of eye-popping visuals to merit a cliffhanger, but it – along with all the show’s unresolved mysteries – do keep you wondering what will happen next.
Star Trek: Discovery returns January 7 with “Despite Yourself.” Watch for our Canon Connections for “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” and “Into the Forest I Go” this week, and keep checking back to TrekCore throughout the hiatus for more Star Trek: Discovery coverage!