“Can you continue to pretend to be one of them?” — Star Trek Discovery Review — The Wolf Inside

Star Trek: Discovery, Season 1, Episode 10
The Wolf Inside
Posted by Clinton
Burnham speaks to Tyler
source: startrekdiscoverysource.tumblr.com

Given sufficient time and clues, the hive mind of the internet will solve virtually any mystery. In this case, it involved two “Star Trek: Discovery” characters.

The idea that Lt. Ash Taylor (Shazad Latif) and Klingon Torchbearer Voq were one and the same entity became a widely held theory on the Web long before the episodes “Despite Yourself” or “The Wolf Inside” premiered. Some argued that Voq had been modified to look like a human. Others asserted that Tyler had been brainwashed. In either case, the online world knew something was up. They felt they had outsmarted the people behind “Star Trek: Discovery.”

But did the production team actually want to keep this plot line a secret? Or did they surreptitiously encourage us to figure it out ahead of time? After all, one of the first clues to this mystery was not even contained in an episode of “Discovery.” It was found just sitting there on imdb.com. The actor credited with playing the role of Voq was one Javid Iqbal. Except it appeared that Javid Iqbal’s only acting credit was playing Voq. Was he new to the profession? It was hard to tell, since Iqbal was conspicuously absent from the “Star Trek: Discovery” press junkets.

The internet was suspicious.

In episode four (“The Butcher Cares Not For The Lamb’s Cry”), L’Rell (Mary Chieffo) tells Voq that in order to win the war he must sacrifice “everything.” At which point, the Torchbearer is spirited away to house Mo’kai, a Klingon house composed of watchers, deceivers and weavers of lies. Then, in episode five (“Choose Your Pain”), Lt. Tyler appears on board a Klingon prison ship. Tyler tells Captain Lorca (Jason Isaacs) that he has survived seven months of captivity by allowing himself to be the subject of L’Rell’s torture and desires. Through it all, he remained strong and never gave up hope of rescue. He even helps Lorca escape the prison ship. He is Starfleet, through and through. Just what you would expect if the spy theory was to be believed.

Lorca speaks with Burnham.
source: v-e-l-v-e-t-g-o-l-d-m-i-n-e.tumblr.com

The internet was obsessed.

It was hard to deny the evidence. How had Tyler survived so long on the Klingon ship? After all, we know that L’Rell had not been on board the vessel during his entire captivity, so that alone could not account for the lieutenant’s ability to escape death. What was the full story behind Tyler’s hazy, violent flashbacks? Had the medical staff on board Discovery run any scans on the Lieutenant? Why was Lorca cutting Tyler so much slack? Was the Captain so enamored with Tyler that he had developed a blind spot to possible sabotage? And the Tribble on the desk in Lorca’s ready room. Surely that would play a part in unmasking the Klingon spy.

Eventually, as the Tyler/Voq theory began to take hold, Javid Iqbal appeared to open his own Twitter account, filled with pictures doctored to place Voq’s head on other actors bodies. Someone was having fun with all this. Maybe we were being played. Perhaps it was all some guerrilla marketing scheme.

But, as this game of cat-and-mouse played out, there was a danger. You see, not only was Lt. Ash Tyler proving to be a lifeline for Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin Green), tying her to his humanity, he was also being portrayed as a survivor of torture and sexual assault. He was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), trying to fight his way back from darkness. If the lieutenant was actually only experiencing the effects of some type of Klingon brainwashing, as the theory suggested, that could marginalize his medical condition. Those in the audience suffering from the horrors of PTSD would feel betrayed.

The Internet was watching.

When all the pieces finally came togethe, both last week and this week, we were lucky enough to have four scenes which slowly unraveled Voq from Tyler. In the first, L’Rell attempts to awaken Voq using trigger phrases. But all does not go according to plan, and Tyler exits the brig, confused and concerned. In the next incident, Dr. Culber (Wilson Cruz) hypothesized that Tyler’s personality was an overlay on some other consciousness. That could mean that all of Tyler’s memories of abuse were real. They simply had not all happened to this particular body. Without warning, as we were beginning  to process that information, Tyler breaks Culber’s neck. The breakdown of the wall within Tyler had begun. Next, Tyler had an episode of cognitive dissonance while hearing “Mirror Voq” explain how Klingons, Vulcans, Andorians and Tellarites were all working as one unit. This concept was so diametrically opposed to the belief system preached by T’Kuvma, Tyler snaps again and attacks the parallel universe Voq. The character is literally at war with himself. Later, as Tyler tries to explain his actions to Michael Burnham, the Klingon Torchbearer claws his way up from the depths of his slumber, fully reasserts himself and tries to kill Burnham.

Tyler in the transporter room
source: burnhamandtilly.tumblr.com

The four scenes helped the anticipated reveal not feel like we were watching Scooby Doo and the gang simply rip the mask off the villain of the week. We saw the duality of this situation. It was some sort of complicated ecosystem contained in one body. It left us wondering who this hybrid creature really is. Do we consider it half human, half Klingon? Is Lt. Ash Tyler still alive within that body? Is the “real” Tyler alive somewhere in the prime universe? Is this body and mind loyal to L’Rell or Burnham? Or both. And which memories are real, and to which personality do they belong?

The internet is waiting to learn more.

Next week: Vaulting Ambition


Random Thoughts and Observations:

  • That look on Lorca’s face as Burnham bows. It clearly means something. Is the internet right again about the Captain?
  • The good guys always seem able to locate a secure channel, no matter how well monitored the environment might be.
  • The doors on the I.S.S. Shenzou sound like they are opening and closing a bit more violently than ships in the prime universe.
  • Tyler survived for a few seconds in the vacuum of space, but the crew members beamed out earlier in the episode appeared to die instantly.
  • Cadet Tilly continues to impress. Will Saru actually give her a recommendation?
  • The new take on Tellarites shown in this episode is a bit jarring. The aliens now have tusks. Given the tradition of portraying the species as having pig-like features, this is an understandable addition, but it is still a bit radical.
  • It was nice to see Detmer get something to do other than simply sit at a station on the bridge. Let’s hope prime universe Detmer also gets more to do.
  • Javid Iqbal’s separate imdb.com credit no longer exists on the Star Trek: Discovery page. Independent credits for other industry professionals with the name Javid Iqbal do still exist on imdb.

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