Full spoilers follow for this episode.
And finally… the Klingons return! Not only are L’Rell (Mary Chieffo) and Tyler/Voq (Shazad Latif) back for the third episode of Disco Season 2, answering some long-lingering post-war questions while also teeing up a bunch of new ones, but there are also B and C storylines this week that keep “Point of Light” jam-packed and pumping speedily along… even while setting up that Section 31 spin-off series we’ve been hearing about lately.
The Chancellor and her torchbearer have been missed since last season’s finale, so catching up on all the intrigue going on in the Klingon High Council chambers — the Klingons are always good for palace intrigue — is long overdue. L’Rell, who ascended to the leadership of the Empire in that finale, is under siege from various political enemies, who are suspicious of not just a woman leader, but one who keeps the counsel of a human. Of course, Tyler/Voq isn’t really human — he’s some kind of human/Klingon hybrid. But still, try explaining that to your average angry, human-hating Klingon.
The most vocal of these Never L’Rellers is the father of last season’s Klingon heavy Kol, the dude with the face paint who bit the dust during an encounter with Discovery. Through the magic of make-up prosthetics, Kol actor Kenneth Mitchell is back here, playing his own dad, and being perhaps even more of a jerk than Kol was. And Poppa Kol’s schemes reach a crescendo when he learns that L’Rell and Voq had a secret love child, which is the perfect opportunity for him to seize power. Or so he thinks.
Mary Chieffo and the Disco producers have spoken publicly about how L’Rell’s current situation is meant, in grand old Star Trek tradition, to mirror issues of the here and now; in this case, it’s the difficulties many women face on planet Earth in the year 2019. And indeed, the thematic throughline in this story definitely works in that regard, not just in the Chancellor’s dealings with her political enemies, who don’t think she has what it takes to get the job done, but even with her ex-lover Tyler/Voq himself. When he finally learns of their child’s existence, he accuses her of choosing work over the baby, but her response hits hard: “You think your discovery made moments ago is somehow greater than the pain I have lived with all this time?”
It’s great seeing the awesome Chieffo and Latif together again, and also getting a chance to delve further into their relationship, which was always a bit murky last season due to the mysterious nature of the Tyler/Voq arc. How exactly they managed to fall in love and take a walk on some ancestral Klingon cliffs for a perfect day while also being trapped without warp drive for weeks (or months?) last season is a bit hard to get one’s head around, but hey, let’s roll with it. And seeing now how the Tyler of it all can’t fully accept L’Rell after what she did to him, even while his Voq aspect still loves her… well, it’s all kind of tragic. And it also raises the ironic Tyler/Voq dilemma facing him: Can T’Kuvma’s successor truly remain Klingon?
There’s no happy ending here, which seems the fair and honest way to go with this story. One wishes that we had seen L’Rell and Tyler/Voq’s final conversation where they decide that what’s best for them, and for their baby, is to split up and give the child away, but we’re robbed of that in favor of a shock fake-out regarding the deaths of Tyler/Voq and the poor, still nameless infant. Perhaps future episodes will revisit their relationship and the decisions made here, but it feels like a bit of a narrative cheat as is.
The arrival of former Emperor Georgiou — let’s just call her Georgiou for now on — worked pretty well, even when considering that Michelle Yeoh’s appearance meant that we missed out on some of that emotional closure. But seeing her on the Section 31 ship and working her particular brand of tradecraft with L’Rell and Tyler/Voq was pretty cool, and it’s starting to become apparent how she can indeed continue to fit into the show despite her Mirror origins. Also, does this mean Tyler/Voq is also going to be on the Section 31 spin-off? (And you know what? Let’s just call him Tyler for now on too.)
Meanwhile, Tilly’s imaginary frenemy situation from last week has quickly taken a turn for the worse, which I’m glad for; I had visions of that plotline stretching out over the coming weeks. So it turns out that, yes, that mycelial whatchamacallit from the Mirror Universe that Tilly absorbed is the source of this annoying manifestation (with a little help from some dark matter too). Where this is all going remains to be seen — perhaps Stamets will attempt to revive Hugh in the same way Tilly’s old friend May was brought back, only less obnoxiously — but for now, anyway, it gave Mary Wiseman some great moments to play, including a terrific scene with Sonequa Martin-Green where they puzzled out Tilly’s problem through tears, science, and friendship.
Speaking of which, Burnham’s story this week delivers the least impact, perhaps because it’s more just the latest chapter in the Search for Spock/Red Angel arc, but the return of Mia Kirshner’s Amanda is welcome. The relationship between Burnham and her mother has always felt strong, but seeing the two of them in action together while trying to find/save their lost brother/son is nice. As for Spock himself, well, sounds like he’s in heaps of trouble at this point. Wonder when we’ll actually see him?
Questions and Notes from the Q Continuum:
- Gotta love the Klingon-version of “Previously on Star Trek: Discovery” to start the episode.
- Yes, the Klingons have hair now. And some of the designs, like L’Rell’s, have clearly been modified to be in line with a more traditional Klingon look. You can either take the explanation for the hair situation — they shaved their heads during wartime to keep with the tradition of Kahless — or not, as is the case with many of Discovery’s canon curiosities.
- How cool is it that the D7 battle cruiser is being used to unify the houses of the Empire? That classic Klingon ship first showed up on The Original Series, though it was also referenced at one point last season as a different looking vessel. Hmmm, prototype?
- Looks like that bi-level Section 31 bridge is the Shenzhou set redressed/reconstructed from last season.
- Burnham has a new science lab, as befitting the ship’s science officer!
- Maybe L’Rell and the pre-Tylerized Voq visited those cliffs via holotech?
- You don’t yell at Captain Pike! Unless you’re Tilly because, you know, Pike’s pretty cool anyway.