11 questions I have after watching Star Trek Discovery episode 10, Despite Yourself

The second half of Star Trek Discovery season 1 has begun and… blimey, it’s a thrilling episode. Despite Yourself features some massive twists, some shocking moments, and it reveals more about some of the stuff we’ve been discussing ever since the final moments of episode 9. However, given that we’re in an entirely new universe now, there are loads of questions raised by this first episode that we desperately need answers for. 

Who is the Emperor? What happened to some of the mirror versions of the characters who know and love? And when is Discovery finally going to confirm our big theory about Ash Tyler? Check out the questions and answers below. Obviously, beware some full and fierce spoilers...  

1. What’s happening to Tyler? 

In case you’re yet to figure this one out… he’s transforming back into Voq, the Klingon exile who was marooned after the battle of the Binary Stars. You remember him? Pale-skinned guy who used to hang out with L’Rell, the female Klingon in Discovery’s brig? Yeah. L’Rell helped him to become Tyler, both physically and mentally, which is what Dr Culber uncovers just before he gets murdered in front of his boyfriend in one of the episode’s most shocking moments. Here’s a full breakdown of the theory, including background, history, and even casting evidence that it’s 100% a thing. Fans have been chatting about it for weeks but, short of him actually saying the name (which was teased in this episode) it’s pretty much confirmed. What does this mean for his relationship with Burnham? Precisely zero good things. 

2. Why didn’t they look for Terran Tyler before sending him? 

Bit of a plot hole this one. It seems Lorca and Saru did their homework on the history of every crew member in the Terran ‘mirror universe’, apart from Tyler. Who they seem to have assumed is just somewhere, and they won’t bump into him, and it’s all fine, and wow it probably isn’t suspicious if he doesn’t exist, and… oh dear. Ok, perhaps I’m being too cynical here. Maybe they found Tyler as a nobody on another starship and just assumed they’d never meet. Or maybe they discovered that he was dead (the ‘Tyler is Voq’ theory suggests that Tyler was a real person, and Voq stole his identity after finding out he died at the battle of the Binary Stars), and thought it didn’t matter. Or maybe they couldn’t find him at all in the Terran universe and just didn’t have time to ask why. Whatever, you’d at least think it would be mentioned. 

3. What’s happened to Stamets? 

I’ll leave the medical stuff to the episode itself (high adrenaline spikes, random speech etc), and focus on what might actually be causing it all. Stamets himself is still in there somewhere, as we see his eyes get less cloudy during the episode, long enough for him to dish out a warning to Culber about enemies within the Discovery. That also gives us the biggest clue about what might have happened to him. The fact that Stamets knows there’s something up with Tyler could be due to two things: 1) he simply saw the medical reports Culber created about Tyler and diagnosed the problem himself. He’s a smart cookie. 2) More likely, Stamets has developed a bond with the Mycelial network, which allows him to see (potentially) everything that’s happening in the universe.

The reason he’s non-responsive is because his mind simply can’t cope with all that information, and ‘Stamets himself’ has shut down in the same way the Tardigrade became a small, useless ball of hibernation when they pushed it too hard. We see echoes of the Tardigrade’s behaviour in Stamets - his raw aggression as he pushes Culber across the medical bay, and his brief moments of lucidity. If Stamets has formed a bond with the network, after completing so many jumps, that would explain how he knew about Tyler and why he’s unresponsive to treatment. 

4. Why aren’t they hiding Saru? 

Here’s the thing: the Terrans are essentially space-Nazis. They despise anything not human or created by humans (so, I guess augmented humans and robots / AIs are cool?). Which probably means Saru - who is very much not human - needs to keep a very low profile on board the newly branded ‘ISS Discovery’. There’s no way an alien would be aboard a Terran ship as anything other than a prisoner. Small note, but Lorca should have stashed him right away the second they discovered what they were dealing with. Having Saru effectively in charge of Discovery (using Captain ‘Killy’ as his puppet) isn’t going to end well when the other Terrans find out what’s happening. It could well be the thing that breaks the Discovery’s cover.

5. What really happened to Terran Lorca? 

Interesting one this. Officially, the Terran version of Lorca is listed as “missing”, after he attempted a coup against The Emperor and vanished when Terran Burnham tried to capture / kill him. My own personal theory is that Terran Lorca is in fact THE Lorca, who is currently Captain of the Discovery. I’m planning to write a full breakdown of why that is soon, but let’s look at the biggest clues here. We know there has been crossover between Terran and ‘normal’ dimensions before, so perhaps Lorca is missing because he found a way to cross over (perhaps with the help of someone like Harry Mudd?). 

Lorca jokes that he hoped to find a ‘good’ version of himself in the mirror universe, implying that he knows he’s a bit of a rogue Starfleet Officer. It’s very possible Terran Lorca is a good guy, because he starts a coup to overthrow the ‘evil’ Emperor (and we know that most characters in the mirror universe are binary opposites of themselves in the normal universe - hence the lovely, mild Tilly is a psychopathic butcher). I think Terran Lorca is the Lorca we know and love, and he’s deliberately brought the crew to the Terran universe - and specifically sought out Burnham - to somehow finish what he started against the Emperor. 

6. What happened to the USS Defiant, which crossed over into the Terran timeline before? 

The answer to this is lies in the original series of Star Trek. You can read a full breakdown in our excellent Star Trek Discovery Easter eggs and secrets feature, but basically the crew of the original Enterprise discover it in the episode the Tholian Web, with its entire crew dead. In the actual Enterprise series, the crew crosses over into the Terran mirror universe, and we learn that the Defiant was used by the Emperor in their attempt to take control of the entire Terran dimension.

The fate of the Defiant may not be a factor in Discovery (although it likely will), if the Terrans learned precisely how it crossed over from the ‘normal’ dimension, because that knowledge is all the Discovery needs to get back. Well, that and a navigator, so it’s not all that simple really. If the show is sticking rigidly to Trek lore, we may see the Emperor using it as his/her flagship, so there's a good chance it'll feature at some point.

7. Why is Tilly captain of the ISS Discovery? 

I touched on this a little before, but not only do the Terran versions of the crew appear to be ‘bad’, they also seem to be exact opposites of the normal characters. However, they likely have similar personality traits and goals. Tilly herself is meek, mild-mannered, and caring - moreso than anyone on board Discovery - which means that her opposite is likely to be the boldest, strongest, and meanest of the ISS version of the ship. Her drive to become Captain, though, would be consistent. She has clearly just used very different methods to get to that point.

8. Would Burnham have had the same upbringing in the Mirror Universe? 

Here’s a thing. Burnham was raised by Spock’s father - a Vulcan. The Terrans are at war with the Vulcans and every other alien race in the mirror universe. So who was Burnham’s parents in that dimension? It couldn’t have been a Vulcan because the Terrans despise aliens, and wouldn’t have allowed someone raised by foreigners grow up to be a Starfleet Captain. So what was ‘evil’ Burnham’s background? Perhaps her human parents never even died? We may never know, as her character is supposedly dead in the Terran universe, but it’d be fun to find out. Perhaps she eventually died because she lacked a piece of Vulcan training that could have saved her life. That would be the most delicious of ironies.

9. Who is The Emperor? 

We don’t know yet but… I have two theories. First off, it’s probably going to be Captain Georgiou, right? Burnham’s kind, loving mentor who we tragically lost at the start of Star Trek Discovery. She was so nice that ‘mirror Georgiou’ is likely to be a proper bastard. It’d be a wonderful twist, and Michelle Yeoh has already teased that she’d reappear in Discovery. Despite being dead. It’s so, so going to be her. 

The other possibility is that it'll be someone related to the Emperor from the Enterprise series. Again, there's a full breakdown of the Mirror universe events from previous iterations of Star Trek in our Easter eggs feature, but we know that in the 22 century, when Captain Archer crosses over, it's Hoshi Sato. So, technically, the Emperor could be one of his relatives but... let's face it, it's Georgiou.

10. What is the evil Discovery doing in the normal Star Trek dimension? 

Yeah, so, there’s also the small matter of what’s going on in the normal universe. We assume that time is running concurrently across both (and that, when the Discovery gets back to the normal universe it won’t simply reappear at the exact point and time it left), which means there’s an evil Starfleet vessel loose in normal space. Quite likely we’ll be treated to a self-contained ‘bottle’ episode, that tells the story of the ISS Discovery, featuring some wonderful in-jokes and scenarios that wouldn’t be possible within the normal flow of this season. I genuinely hope this is a thing. Practically, I’m guessing that once the ISS Discovery realises what has happened, the crew will be hell-bent on fighting and gathering as much information as possible to try and work out how the Terrans can traverse dimensions and conquer the normal universe as brutally as possible.

11. How amazing was Lorca’s impression of Scotty? 

Just sublime. Lorca’s “disguised voice” explaining away technical issue, as the Discovery made first contact with the Terran Starship (ISS Cooper), is one of the greatest Easter eggs of all time. Bravo.