by Eric Renner Brown | via Entertainment Weekly
“The Wolf Inside,” Star Trek: Discovery‘s second episode following a midseason hiatus, was messy, confusing, and often thrilling — sort of like the Terran-dominated alternate universe in which the show’s titular crew find themselves stranded.
Multiple strands of Discovery‘s plot converged Sunday night, aided by the surprise returns of initial series fixtures — albeit, as their mirror universe selves — including Voq, Sarek, and Philippa Georgiou. After Burnham tamped down an insurrection by killing acting I.S.S Shenzhou captain Danby Connor at the conclusion of last week’s episode, “Despite Yourself,” Burnham seemed capable of masquerading as a vicious Terran leader long enough to transmit crucial data back to Discovery to ensure the ship’s return to its universe. But numerous curveballs and a key betrayal in “The Wolf Inside” cast her aptitude into doubt.
For better and for worse, the episode revolved around Lt. Ash Tyler. When Tyler was rescued from Klingon captivity in “Choose Your Pain” and subsequently appointed Discovery’s chief of security, he provided a boost of roguish flair to Discovery. But recent episodes have excessively emphasized his Klingon allegiances — prior to “The Wolf Inside,” viewers knew he was sympathetic to the Federation’s enemies in some way — and his romantic relationship with Burnham.
Early in “The Wolf Inside,” Tyler tells Burnham a gooey story about how she’s his tether, as they cuddle in her Shenzhou quarters. When Saru and Tilly contact Burnham through a secure channel from Discovery and omit the news that Dr. Culber was murdered — at the hands of Tyler, we know — the episode seems destined for more inconclusive meandering. Tyler’s compromised, Discovery trusts him, Burnham’s still his lover, and so on.
Thankfully, “The Wolf Inside” ends this tedious dance. After discussing with Saru that she hasn’t yet found a way to transmit critical data back to Discovery, Burnham visits the Shenzhou’s bridge, where she receives intelligence from a Terran leader: The regime has tracked down the Klingon leader of the anti-Terran resistance. Known as Fire Wolf, the Klingon and other rebel forces are situated on Harlak. “Terran General Order Four,” a studied Burnham says upon hearing the news. “Any exotic species deemed a threat to the Imperial Supremacy will be extinguished without prejudice.”
Though Lorca emphasized the imperative to abide by Terran customs in “Despite Yourself,” Burnham’s troubled by her mission to obliterate the rebels. She visits Lorca in the brig, where the Discovery captain reiterates himself: “You have to do it,” he says. “Sometimes the end justifies terrible means.” But Burnham isn’t only fixated on the humanitarian aspect. Seeing the resistance’s “unshakable union of species” has inspired her to meet with Fire Wolf to learn how the Klingons bonded with other species — perhaps yielding lessons for how to make peace with the race upon Discovery’s return to the prime timeline. When Burnham implores Lorca to not “force [her] to slaughter this coalition of hope,” he relents — on the condition that when she beams down to Harlak, she brings Tyler and no other Shenzhou crew.
Lorca’s order proves fateful. Resistance forces predictably attack Burnham and Tyler upon their arrival on Harlak’s surface. What follows Burnham and Tyler’s surrender, though, is less predictable. The duo is taken to a cloaked encampment, where they’re greeted by Fire Wolf — who is the mirror version of Voq, the eventually disgraced Klingon Burnham fought by hand in Discovery‘s premiere. Fire Wolf recognizes Burnham as the “butcher of the Binary Stars” — she apparently precipitated a bloody conflict with the Klingons at the Binary Stars in both timelines — and calls for “the prophet” to discern her true intentions. The prophet, it turns out, is Sarek, Burnham’s adoptive Vulcan father in the prime universe. Sarek mind melds with her, sees memories between his mirror self and Burnham, and subsequently vouches for her credibility. “I see a world bursting with potential and a child molded by wisdom and a seemingly impossible depth of human compassion,” he says. “She means us no harm.”
Click HERE to read the recap, “The Wolf Inside (S1 E11)”
Despite Yourself (S1 E10) | Vaulting Ambition (S1 E12)