Star Trek: Discovery looks poised to start going back to basics, albeit in a very bonkers fashion, in the episode The War Without, the War Within. The crew may have made it back to their own universe, only to discover that they’ve returned nine months after their disappearance. And there’s still no safe harbor. The war has taken a turn for the worse, as the Klingons have conquered most of Federation space.
Now the Federation is in a battle for its very existence against a foe that seeks to destroy it at all costs. Further complicating this is Burnham’s (Sonequa Martin-Green) decision to save Emperor Georgiou Michelle Yeoh) and beam her aboard the ship before escaping the Terran Universe. And Georgiou seems very willing to help the Federation win. Seems that those philosophical and ethical discussions Discovery has been missing since its beginning are bound to make a comeback. After all, it’s easy to hold on to your morals in times of peace, but when you’re fighting and losing against an enemy that doesn’t seem capable of being reasoned with, ends tend to start justifying means.
Meanwhile, Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif) has a great many personal demons to face after the revelation that for a time he was turned into a sleeper spy for the Klingons and essentially housed a completely separate personality, that of Voq, inside him. And Voq has done terrible things, not only trying to kill Burnham, but successfully killing Dr. Culber (Wilson Cruz). Stamets (Anthony Rapp) is understandably slow to forgive, but the other crew members, led by Tilly (Mary Wiseman), seem surprisingly willing to lend Tyler their support.
Burnham is encouraged to offer hers as well, but when betrayal cuts as deep as Tyler’s has, trust is slow to come back. As Burnham points out, Voq didn’t make Tyler deceive her. It’s also hard for Burnham to still see him as Tyler after the Klingon inside him tried to kill her. So she’s understandably reluctant to offer him her help, even if most of us might disagree with her decision. Any lingering questions we have, such as why he’s allowed to roam freely, and why the Federation isn’t making better use of his access to Voq’s memories, are mostly forgiven due to the ability of Sonequa Martin-Green to make all this pack way more of an emotional punch than it should.
If Burnham’s decisions are questionable, Sarek (James Frain) and Admiral Cornwell’s (Jayne Brook) quickly become deranged. An attack on the Klingon home world is dangerous, yet also another example of the crew coming together to accomplish a seemingly impossible goal. The real kicker is when they also decide to make Emperor Georgiou captain, and have her impersonate her Federation counterpart. Even if its pretty damn cool to see Michelle Yeoh back in command, this time with a wicked gleam in her eye, it looks like the Discovery just traded one psychopathic captain for another. Next week’s season finale could be the show’s craziest episode to date.