Star Trek: Discovery "Into the Forest I Go"
Previously on Star Trek: Discovery: Lt. Stamets is the key to powering the Discovery’s spore drive, but it’s been doing strange things to him, and he’s afraid to tell his boyfriend Dr. Culber. Lt. Tyler was previously held captive by the Klingons and kept alive because Klingon captain L’Rell “took a liking” to him. And then L’Rell offered to surrender to Admiral Cornwell, but ended up killing her instead… or did she? In the interests of getting the upper hand over the Klingons, Burnham and Tyler and Saru went on an away mission to the planet Pahvo to access a crystal transmitter that would allow them to detect cloaked Klingon ships. They got the transmitter working, but the residents of Pahvo decided it really would be in everyone’s best interests if they called in the Klingons for a nice sit-down chat.
This episode is certainly a big improvement over the last one, and one of the better episodes of this series so far. But really, one would hope that would be the case, what with this being the “fall finale” and all (new episodes resume in January). There’s plenty of action, and a couple of notable firsts for the franchise (including one that might be a bit NSFW, maybe?) but I’m not sure if it’s quite enough to excuse the predictable plots we had to endure last week in setting all this up, not to mention the progressively mediocre episodes leading up to it.
As the Discovery continues to orbit Pahvo, that Vulcan admiral (Terral) appears on the bridge of the Discovery in holographic form, ordering Captain Lorca to withdraw immediately to a nearby starbase. Lorca protests the order, saying they can’t leave because the Klingons aren’t going to be satisfied with destroying the crystal transmitter, and are going to wipe out the entire planet as well. Terrel again orders him to the starbase and Lorca growls, “You want me to run from a fight…” Isn’t that exactly what he did in the previous episode, after the Gagarin was destroyed? He’s also concerned about an entire sentient species being wiped out, despite the Pahvans never being so much as seen in this episode despite their critical role in the plot.
Terral ends the call, but instead of ordering a jump to the starbase, Lorca simply orders the ship to head there at a leisurely warp five. It seems he intends to disobey the order, but wants to give the impression that he’s complying. Along those lines, he wants Stamets (who’s on the bridge right now for some reason) to pretend there’s a medical reason he can’t make the jump, and go to Sickbay for a full examination. Stamets hesitates, obviously not wanting Culber to learn about the full seriousness of his current condition, but goes there anyway.
Saru is also back on the bridge, almost as if him going completely nuts under the control of the Pahvans never even happened. He says he might be able to develop an “algorithm” to reveal the location of any cloaked Klingon ship. But doing so would involve beaming over to place sensors on one of those ships. Tyler says they can use the Discovery as bait, because the Klingons can’t use their weapons or shields when cloaked, meaning that once the ship decloaks to fire, they’ll have a split-second window to beam over. However, once they place the sensors, it’ll take “days” to acquire all the necessary information. Lorca says they don’t have days, but immediately knows that somehow, they can use the spore drive to gather all that data a whole lot quicker.
He heads to Sickbay, where Culber informs him that all the jumps have been causing massive changes to Stamets’ brain. Lorca asks if he’s experienced any “side effects” and Stamets lies and says he hasn’t. So… that’s it, then? The spore drive is just rewiring his brain? Are we pretending that scene where Stamets walked away from a mirror but his reflection was still standing there didn’t happen?
Lorca takes Stamets to his ready room, where he explains he wants the ship to make 133 jumps in four minutes, or rather “micro-jumps” that will allow them to get a “three dimensional snapshot” of the cloaked Klingon ship from every angle. Stamets thinks this is insane and refuses, so Lorca appeals to the “explorer” in him, pulling up a holographic chart that suggests the spore drive just might allow for travel to “alternate parallel universes”. (Plot point!)
Lorca says that once they win the war, they might be able to journey to places far beyond anything they ever dreamed of. And so, Stamets is on board with the plan to do 133 jumps. But why 133, specifically? Who knows.
Back on the bridge, Lorca tells Tyler to organize a boarding party to plant the sensors on the Klingon ship. Tyler of course recommends “Specialist Burnham” accompany him, but Lorca nixes the idea. So Burnham gives an impassioned speech about how Lorca brought her to the Discovery to help win the war, and if she can’t do that, she has no purpose here. Naturally, he relents.
In Engineering, Stamets is preparing for the 133 jumps, and Culber says he can’t stop him from doing this, but he’s going to attach a few devices to Stamets to allow him to receive treatments while inside the spore chamber. Ensign Tilly overhears this and blurts out, “I’m so glad he finally told you about the side effects!” When, of course, Stamets did no such thing, and we get another hilarious moment where Tilly realizes she’s jammed her foot in her mouth yet again.
Cut to a montage of everybody making preparations, as Lorca gives a pep talk to the entire ship about the enormity of the mission they’re about to undertake, but he knows they can handle it because they’re “fierce warriors”, and he tells them they’ll all remember this as the day they ended the war with the Klingons.
They detect the Klingon Ship of the Dead heading toward Pahvo, and so Lorca orders a Black Alert, and the ship instantly goes from traveling at warp five to a total dead stop near Pahvo. Damn, I hope everybody was wearing their seat belts for that one.
On the bridge of the cloaked Ship of the Dead, Kol observes the Discovery, and orders his crew to prepare to fire. The ship then decloaks, and Tyler and Burnham quickly beam over, while the Discovery takes evasive action to avoid enemy fire.
On the Klingon ship, Burnham plants the first sensor in a cargo hold, and it’s a pretty massive device that they leave sitting out in the open, even though it glows brightly and even announces in the computer’s voice, “Uplink to Discovery established!” Wow, that’s quite the stealthy device you guys have come up with there.
The next sensor has to be planted on the bridge, but as they make their way there, Burnham detects a human life sign onboard. Tyler doesn’t want to deviate from the mission, but Burnham says they’re obligated to rescue one of their own.
Tyler cuts some wires on a panel and they enter a room that turns out to be that burial chamber where L’Rell brought Cornwell’s body, and where L’Rell saw all the dead members of her family and swore to avenge them. And that human life sign turns out to be… Admiral Cornwell, who’s still alive. Burnham is able to revive her, but she’s partially paralyzed.
Guess who else is here? L’Rell, who I guess was locked up in here after the events of the previous episode. She sees her former boytoy Tyler, and ecstatically says, “It’s you!” Tyler instantly freezes up, and has scattered flashbacks to the gruesome and bloody torture he endured at her hands. He gets all sweaty and disoriented in fisheye-lens view and can’t move.
Burnham sees he’s totally frozen, so she stuns L’Rell, and Cornwell says she’s had experience working with patients with PTSD, and she knows Tyler is in shock and is going to be pretty much useless for the rest of their mission. Burnham has no choice but to leave a phaser in Cornwell’s hand and make her way to the bridge.
Burnham sneaks onto the bridge and plants the next sensor, which also lights up and chirps, “Uplink to Discovery established!” Good thing Klingons appear to have a truly awful sense of hearing.
Back on the Discovery, they detect both sensors are online, and now all they need to do is to get the Klingon ship to cloak itself. So Lorca orders another Black Alert as the Discovery jumps all around the ship, firing torpedoes from every direction.
On the Klingon ship, Burnham flips open her communicator, showing that she’s using her universal translator to understand what the Klingons are saying. Miraculously, this also causes all the Klingons on the bridge to suddenly speak English from this point forward, and Kol orders the ship to cloak, just as the Discovery crew wants.
Back over in Engineering, it’s time to begin the 133 jumps. Tilly loads a canister of spores into the drive, and Stamets tells Culber, “I love you,” and the rapid fire jumps begin. The Discovery jumps all around the cloaked Klingon ship, and Culber starts to get concerned about Stamets’ high pulse rate. He asks Tilly how many jumps are left and she matter-of-factly says, “96 more.” Heh. I wonder if Culber was the kind of kid who would always ask “are we there yet?” five minutes into every car ride.
Stamets is looking sweaty and disoriented, and Culber asks how he’s doing. Stamets replies, “There’s a clearing, in the forest! That’s how they go!” So, doing well, then.
Culber calls the bridge to say they have to abort, but Lorca says they can’t, so Culber just triggers an injection of a chemical to chill him out. Crisis averted. Culber looks through the windows of the spore chamber and says, “I love you too.”
On the Klingon ship, they detect signs of “sabotage” near the burial chamber, presumably because of those wires that Tyler cut. This causes Kol to figure out that all the jumps the Discovery is doing must be some sort of “ruse”, and orders the ship to go to warp. Burnham, listening in, realizes that if the ship goes to warp, the whole plan is fucked. So she pops up and starts shooting. After stunning several of his men, she tells Kol through her translator app that she wants to talk.
She shows herself and also her translator, which she says is proof of humanity’s “desire to communicate”. And then it turns out Kol just happens to be holding the Starfleet badge of Burnham’s former captain, the late Philippa Georgiou. Which he then uses to pick his teeth. Not sure why Kol would have this, given that T’Kuvma is the one who killed Georgiou and L’Rell and Voq are the ones who supposedly chowed down on her brain, but whatever.
Burnham responds by telling him that she thought Klingons where “honorable”, and that there’s no honor in taking over T’Kuvma’s ship. And then she finally she admits that she’s the one who killed T’Kuvma back in the second episode.
Meanwhile, other members of the Klingon crew are entering the burial chamber, and Cornwell tries her best to fend them off while Tyler remains catatonic. Finally, Tyler flashes back to kissing Burnham, which brings him around, and he grabs a disrupter rifle that’s sitting around somewhere and vaporizes their attackers. Wow, love can conquer PTSD!
Back on the Klingon bridge, Kol is thanking Burnham, because without the death of T’Kuvma, he wouldn’t be in power now. He orders her locked up regardless, but Burnham yells that he should “prove his worth” by defeating her in battle. Which I think is the Klingon equivalent of “put down that gun and fight me like a man!” Kol takes the bait and tosses a knife over to Burnham, and the two fight it out.
Meanwhile, the Discovery finally finishes its 133 jumps, and is finally able to penetrate the cloaking device. First, they beam back Tyler, who tells them they also need to beam out Cornwell. But just as he starts to beam out, L’Rell wakes up and pulls a Gillian Taylor by jumping on Tyler’s back and beaming out with him.
Burnham hears on her earpiece that she’s about to get beamed out, so she grabs Georgiou’s badge from Kol’s chest and leaps over a railing and gets transported away in mid-fall. Sadly, we don’t get to see her landing on her face on the floor of the transporter room.
Lorca gets word that everybody’s back on the Discovery, and orders them to fire photon torpedoes. He then walks toward the viewscreen and does the EpiPen thing on his eyes, because I guess he really wants to see what’s about to happen, light sensitivity be damned.
The torpedoes hit and the Klingon Ship of the Dead explodes into a giant ball of fire while the bridge crew looks on. Burnham and Tyler step on to the bridge just in time to see it, while Lorca just walks away in slow-mo. And then Saru gives Burnham a look of, I’m guessing, respect (hard to tell with all that makeup on), while Burnham stares down at Georgiou’s badge.
Well, we’re not quite done yet. Terral is talking to Lorca, and for some reason he’s on a screen this time instead of on the holographic communicator. He reports that Admiral Cornwell has been transported to a medical facility and is doing much better, which makes Lorca uncomfortable (for no particular reason, I’m sure). Then Lorca says he’s going to transmit the algorithm for detecting cloaked Klingon ships to Starfleet, which should reach them in less than 11 hours. Terral says that despite Lorca’s “unorthodox methods”, he wants to award him the “Legion of Honor” for his accomplishments in the war effort (which is actually a commendation that later gets bestowed upon both Dr. Leonard McCoy and Lt. Commander Data).
Meanwhile, Burnham goes to Tyler’s quarters to confront him about his PTSD episode, and what really happened to him in that Klingon prison. He admits that he did what he had to do to survive, and he wasn’t just a prisoner, because L’Rell took a “particular… interest in me”. He encouraged it because it was the only way to stay alive, and now he feels guilt over surviving. But he says that maybe it was all “worth it” because if it hadn’t happened, he wouldn’t be here on the Discovery now with Burnham. Which of course leads to another kiss, and much more.
Cut to Stamets. Oh yeah, Stamets! Remember him? The guy who was on the verge of death during the 133 jumps necessary to crack the cloaking algorithm? What’s up with him, anyway?
Well, it seems he’s meeting with Lorca on an observation deck as the two take in the star-rise over the planet Pahvo. Lorca says he wants to give his Legion of Honor commendation to Stamets, and they’ll also head to the starbase at normal, boring old warp speed so Stamets can recuperate. Stamets says the commendation isn’t necessary, and he’s even willing to do one more jump to get the Discovery to the starbase.
Lorca starts to talk about all the exploration they’ll be doing once the war is over, but Stamets says “one more jump” actually means “one more jump”. After that, he’s done, and he’s going to let Starfleet doctors figure out what’s wrong with him.
In Tyler’s quarters, he’s having nightmares about L’Rell, and flashing back to being forced to have sex with her, which eventually leads to a first for the franchise: Klingon tits. There they are, clear as day. Nipples and all. Why do I feel not at all shocked by this?
Tyler wakes up with a start, and looks over at a sleeping Burnham, and then goes down to the brig to confront L’Rell. Indicating this is more than just PTSD, he asks, “What did you do to me?” She promises, “I will never let them hurt you,” and adds, “Soon,” which seems to imply Tyler might be on his way to becoming the Klingon version of the Manchurian Candidate.
Stamets is about to make his final jump, and step into the spore chamber for the last time. So he gives Culber a full-on kiss on the mouth, which I believe is another first for the franchise. No, no… it’s not the first same-sex kiss in Star Trek history; it’s the first time two guys kiss in Star Trek history. Which comes only 22 years after the first girl-on-girl kiss in franchise history. Progress!
Stamets promises that after this is all over, they’ll have a wonderful date where they’ll even go see La Boheme together, which doesn’t bode well for his continued health. Sure enough, when he makes the jump, Stamets screams out in pain. Ice crystals form on the windows of the spore chamber as Tilly reports that, according to the computer, this was an “incomplete navigation sequence”.
Stamets comes out of the chamber and collapses and his eyes are all white. He says, “So many… I can see them all! Infinite permutations! It’s… magnificent!” For a moment, I was everywhere. I mean, everywhere, Captain!
The Discovery is now in a strange, purple-hued area of space, and on the bridge, Saru has no idea where they are. Lorca wonders if that’s “Klingon wreckage” surrounding them. The camera pulls back on the Discovery to find it surrounded by the debris of other ships. So, the odds are pretty good that the Discovery has jumped into a parallel universe. Am I the only one hoping against hope this might be a remake of the animated series episode “The Time Trap”, which has almost the exact same setup? Maybe the Discovery will also meet a council made up of a giant teddy bear, a walking plant, and an Orion girl in a bikini.
And the episode’s title appears to be a reference to the quote, “And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul,” which seems to be mostly attributed to 19th Century author and naturalist John Muir, though I have yet to find any solid evidence he actually wrote it.
All in all, a pretty exciting, action-packed episode. And they were able to resolve a few plot threads along the way (Burnham avenging Captain Georgiou’s death, Burnham making her peace with Saru, etc). Also, for the very first time, the Star Trek franchise didn’t wimp out on showing an honest-to-goodness romantic relationship between two men. So I can’t say I have any particular complaints about this episode, beyond wondering why the writers couldn’t have also brought their A game the previous three or four weeks. Star Trek: Discovery should have given us a lot more episodes like this one, and a whole lot less one-offs like that Groundhog Day retread of a few weeks back.
I’m curious to see where the next half-season goes, but to be honest, I’m mostly only subscribing to CBS All Access for the sake of these recaps. If I wasn’t recapping the show, I’d probably just be signing up long enough to binge-watch the whole thing in a week, which I guess says it all. See you all in January!