“I’m going to have nightmares about myself.” — Star Trek Discovery Review — Despite Yourself

Star Trek: Discovery, Season 1, Episode 10
Despite Yourself
Posted by Clinton
Tilly as Captain Killy
source: burnhamandtilly.tumblr.com

A friend of mine recently Tweeted “Going to a mirror dimension in the first season is a terrible idea because we barely know these characters.”

If the crossover had happened earlier in the season, I might have agreed. But I think we now have some basic ideas about each of our lead characters. To me, it is the familiarity with this crew that is actually the issue when it comes to the so-called “Mirror Universe.” With one exception.

Up until now, we’ve seen how stoic, seasoned characters handle being thrust into this unfamiliar universe. Whether it was Kirk and company or the crew of Deep Space Nine, our heroes have been quick to ponder, analyze and adapt. That is to be expected. It is why they hold positions of authority. We’ve also seen how “the other half” lives, particularly aboard Archer’s I.S.S. Enterprise. (RIP Archer, All hail Empress Sato!) But what about the crew of the Discovery? The ship is captained by a man with questionable morals, it is seconded by a Kelpian who lives with constant fear, watched over by a chief of security who may be some sort of spy, and has a specialist convicted of mutiny. It all sounds pretty dark even before they go to the mirror universe.

Lorca speaking to the crew.
source: greenjimkirk.tumblr.com

Enter our surrogate “every person,” Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman). Tilly is, we must remind ourselves, still a cadet. She has been serving as a theoretical engineer on board the Discovery, working with Lt. Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp). It has certainly been quite a unique internship. For starters, she was given a mutineer as a roommate. Then she had to watch as Starfleet officers knowingly harmed a lifeform (the tardigrade) to serve their own purposes. She has been forced to accept the fact that she has died — multiple times (“Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad”). And she struggled to keep the knowledge of her superior officer’s illness a secret, only to have that illness eventually lead to catastrophic consequences for Stamets and the entire crew.

But, through it all, Tilly has remained wide eyed and optimistic. She confesses that she loves feeling feelings. When she, Stamets and Burnham (Sonequa Martin Green) discuss finding an alternative to using the tardigrade in the spore drive, she enthusiastically exclaims “You guys! This is so fucking cool!” She also played matchmaker between Burnham and Lt. Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif).

Tilly and Stamets.

Cadet Sylvia Tilly’s eyes are also focused on the future. In “Context is for Kings,” she tells Burnham, “I’m going to be a captain someday. The thing is that there are still some things I need to learn.” At which point. she takes on Burnham as a mentor. And when Burnham has reservations about the advice she has been giving Tilly, she tells the cadet to seek her own way to the Captain’s chair. Tilly smiles and replies “I have.”

So, when the Discovery finds itself in the Mirror Universe, and it is revealed that its Sylvia Tilly is the bloodthirsty Captain of the I.S.S. Discovery, her world is turned upside down — as is ours. Lorca’s advice is to “Defy your every instinct.” Which is all too true.

Our avatar, our surrogate, has met her darkest side. And she takes it about as well as we would. She does not enjoy any aspect of her “Captain Killy” counterpart.

As Tilly prepares to communicate with Captain Connor of the I.S.S. Shenzou, Burnham comments, “You are a captain now.” But Tilly realizes this situation is a mockery of her goals. Tilly rejects the statement. “No, I’m not. She is. I’m nothing like her, Michael. She’s terrifying. She’s like a twisted version of everything I’ve ever aspired to be. I’m going to have nightmares about myself now.”

Tilly has to put on the same show as the rest of the prime universe crew, masquerading as cutthroat servants of the Empire. Reluctantly, nervously, she sits in the Captain’s chair, but there is no satisfaction in her ascent to this position. She wants nothing to do with this universe. Which is as it should be. We need Tilly to stay true to herself.

Others on board the Discovery may be on the road to redemption (or ruin), but Tilly needs to stay on the path to greatness. Let’s hope the darkest timeline does not claim her.

Burnham talking to Tilly
source: twyllodrus.tumblr.com

Ultimately Michael Burnham does offer one insight that helps Tilly, and can help us hang on, too: “I’ve been trying to understand them better. And Terran strength is born out of pure necessity, because they live in constant fear. Always looking for the next knife aimed at their back. Their strength is painted rust. It’s a facade. But you have the strength of an entire crew that believes in you. Fortify yourself with our faith in you. That’s what a real captain does.”

Next episode:  The Wolf Inside

 

Random Thoughts and Observations:

  • Yes! I called it on the cloak-defeating data. The Discovery did not transmit the information before it was pulled into the mirror universe.
  • Saru is supposed to trust his threat ganglia, but seems to pay it little mind when it reacts to Ash Tyler’s appearance on the bridge.
  • How loyal is Lorca to Ash Tyler? Tyler is late to the bridge for yellow alert, freaked out in the work bee, and takes his time getting to the transporter room, but Lorca lets all that slide.
  • My prediction is that Philippa Geourgiou is the mysterious Emperor
  • Stamets is clearly giving clues as to events unfolding around the crew. But are the clues always as literal as we think they are?
  • Why is there never anyone else in the brig? Or sickbay?
  • Why wasn’t Culber wearing a Terran version of a medical delta shield?
  • Spoiler: There is a theory floating out there that Lorca is actually from the mirror universe. Nothing that happens in this episode would negate that theory. In fact, putting emphasis on the fact that Lorca plucked Burnham (his would-be killer in the mirror universe) out of prison and bringing her on board the Discovery, then ultimately into this dark universe could clearly be part of a plan.

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