7 questions I have after watching Star Trek Discovery season 1 episode 11 - The Wolf Inside

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Hey, Star Trek Discovery viewer: welcome aboard the USS OhGodDidThatJustHappen. This week’s episode - The Wolf Inside - dished out some big reveals, answering many of the big questions we had from last week’s show, and from the first half of the season. Spoilers follow, obviously. 

Yes, Ash Tyler is indeed the Klingon Voq; yes, the Emperor is a megalomaniacal version of Captain Georgiou; yes, confident, assertive Tilly is a far better character than nervous Tilly. These things are all confirmed. But the episode still leaves us with plenty of questions, which are likely to be unpicked by forthcoming episodes of the show. These are they... 

1. Is Mirror Stamets evil? And is he similarly trapped in the Mycelial network? 

So, we see that Mirror Stamets is inside the Mycelial network along with regular Stamets. His greeting appears loaded with passive aggression, but we don’t know for certain that he’s actually evil. We can assume that the crossing over of universes similarly incapacitated Mirror Stamets on board the Terran version of Discovery, and that he has ended up inside the network too. The pair appear trapped, but this seems very likely to be the thing that will get the two versions of Discovery back to their respective universes. 

Problem is, the two Stamets’ will likely need to cooperate if they’re to achieve this, but how will that happen if one is evil and the other good? Perhaps they’re both men of pure science, which will override any potential moral alignment. Perhaps not, and we’ll see some kind of awesome fist-fight in the Mycelial network. And, of note, why did Tilly wait until now to attempt her cure of Stamets? Couldn’t she have done that in the last episode? This one seems like a bit of artistic license, although you could argue that it has taken her a while to adjust to the Terran universe, and she’s not only just had time to think of it, but she’s also recently grown the confidence to suggest it.

2. Why is Saru on board the Discovery, even as a slave? And why didn’t Burnham tell Saru about his mirror self? 

Given the Terran’s hatred of other species, and their contempt for anyone who dares defy the Emperor or chain of command, it seems puzzling that they’d keep Saru on board the ISS Discovery. Even if he’s a slave, he’s still an alien species. Perhaps they keep him around for his Kelpien sense of threat… that would be a particularly useful asset in a universe filled with people attempting to stab you in the back. Saru’s threat ganglia might have saved Terran Burnham’s life a few times as others attempted to assassinate her. 

Still, for someone as hardline as Terran Burnham, it seems odd she’s tolerate alien presence at all. The other question is: why didn’t Burnham mention his presence to the real Saru? Perhaps, given their history of Burnham belittling Saru, she didn’t want to tell him how low his mirror version had been forced to sink. It was a kindness.

3. When did Burnham get a chance to message her ‘Tyler transport’ plan to the Discovery? 

This all happens so fast, it’s tricky to tell whether the plan Burnham formulates to detain Tyler (or is it Voq from now on?) is a plot hole or a narrative convenience. She doesn’t discover his true identity until he reveals himself (steady on) in her quarters, and from there he’s immediately dragged to the transporter room for execution. Burnham appears to simply follow him in, as a sign of strength to demonstrate that she isn’t flustered. However, this leaves the question: how does she communicate this to the Discovery? Including his exact coordinates after teleporting? It’s a weird one. 

Maybe she doesn’t go directly to the transporter room, and nips back into her quarters to make the call. It seems like an awkward process to create the secure connection, but it’s technically possible. Maybe the Discovery is trailing the Shenzhou and they simply detect Tyler’s lifesign and beams him aboard once he’s in space, but that wouldn’t explain how they know he’s Voq. But wouldn’t the crew of the Shenzhou notice he’d been teleported elsewhere? Perhaps we’re meant to fill in the blanks for ourselves here, but it requires more than a little suspension of disbelief. The reveal of what Burnham has done, however, is more than worth the vagaries.

4. Why did Burnham have Lorca sent to the bridge at the end? 

This feels a little inconsistent too. Given that Lorca is the highest value prisoner in the galaxy, and she was so protective of him when they first arrived on the ISS Shenzhou (because, she says, his bounty is so high) it seems very strange that she’d just tell one of her crew to fetch him. And why bring him to the bridge? The explanation is that she’s panicking because of the attack on the resistance but, given how precisely she acted when the man she ‘loved’ turned out to be an arch enemy, this seems hugely out of character. 

More than that, surely the Emperor - who acknowledges the presence of Lorca - will find it a little odd that he’s onboard the bridge of the Starship, in full view of her. Note that Lorca, in the scene before, suggests they stay aboard the Shenzhou, despite having all they need to escape. Perhaps he’s just being careful, but perhaps he has ulterior motives - after all, some theories suggest he’s actually Terran Lorca, and not the one from the Starfleet universe. 

5. Yes, why can’t they see the Emperor’s ship? 

It seems odd that the Shenzhou isn’t able to see or detect the Emperor’s ship, as she bombards the rebel bases. Sure, active cloaking and cloaking tech clearly exists in the Terran universe, but you’d think Terran vessels would be able to keep track of each other. Maybe the Emperor is a special exception, and she’s off the grid because she wants to prevent any assassination attempts. That’d make sense. Or maybe it’s something to do with Klingon cloaking tech. It’s a big leap, but what if she somehow managed to acquire the data that the USS Discovery brought through to the Mirror Universe? And has applied it to her own ship? That really does open up a whole can-factory of worms.

6. Is Burnham not Sarek’s adopted daughter? If not, who are her parents? 

Given Mirror Sarek’s lack of acknowledgement of Burnham at the rebel base, it’s safe to assume he isn’t her adopted father in the Mirror universe. If so, who are her parents? Are we going to discover that Emperor Georgiou - who was always like a mother to Burnham in the regular universe - is her adopted mum? Now that would be delicious. Also of note, while we’re talking about Sarek. Love the goatee (a wonderful nod to Mirror Spock from the Original Series), but given how decent Sarek is in the regular universe, shouldn’t he be a bit of a bastard in the Mirror dimension? He seems like a nice chap. 

7. Is Tyler completely gone? And is there a Mirror Tyler? 

So, Tyler is Voq. Most have known that for a while, so the reveal comes as little surprise. For me, it’s well handled though and adds extra spice to the relationship between him and Burnham. Based on her reaction, it casts questions over whether or not she really loved him but… perhaps we’ll see her grief manifest in later episodes. However, it does beg the question: is Tyler completely gone now? The answer is most likely yes, as he was probably a mere ‘shell identity’ based on Voq’s research of the crew manifests after he was stranded post-Battle of the Binary stars. 

There’s no doubt an Ash Tyler existed, but he’s almost certainly dead in the regular universe. And given that he was just a cover for Voq and L’Rell to infiltrate Discovery, he’s probably gone for good. Unless… they come across Mirror Tyler in the Terran universe. That might be a nice way to keep the character (and actor Shazad Latif) in the show for season 2, and to avoid completely crushing Burnham’s spirit. It’s a longshot, though, as Tyler is probably gone for good.