Warning: This contains spoilers for Episode 9 of Star Trek: Discovery. Not caught up? See our spoiler-free review of the series’ opening episodes here.
Jumping off from last episode’s cliffhanger, Episode 9 covers a hell of a lot of ground, narrative-wise. Although its ending – with the destruction of the Ship Of The Dead – feels a little rushed, this adventure mostly rattles along in splendid manner.
Stamets is at the story’s centre, his ongoing health concerns resulting from being the spore drive’s biological interface reaching a critical phase. As well as the interpersonal strain that puts on his relationship with Ken, he’s also required to make 133 tiny jumps as part of Captain Lorca’s plan to harvest enough data from the Klingon vessel to uncover a way to detect cloaked starships. Gathering this intelligence, of course, requires Ash and Michael to beam across to the enemy vessel. Questions arise as to why Lorca is so reluctant to send Michael, but it’s a damn good job he relented to her pleas; with Ash soon incapacitated by a bout of PTSD – understandable, as he comes face to face with L’Rell, the Klingon who tortured and sexually abused him for seven months – it’s left up to Michael to complete the mission.
The devices that mask human life signs so Michael and Ash aren’t detectable to the Klingons are a neat touch, and further examples of human ingenuity – the universal translator – that Michael uses as proof that Star Fleet’s priority is communication and understanding between species. Kol’s having none of it, of course, viewing it as just another attack on Klingon individuality.
The final battle between Kol and Michael is fantastic and there seems little doubt that the Klingon warlord would ultimately triumph. But he’s robbed of his victory, when, data fully collated by Saru, Michael, Ash and – a bonus rescue – Admiral Cornwell are beamed back to Discovery. Also with them is L’Rell – more of her later.
That the Ship of the Dead and – presumably – Commander Kol and his crew are obliterated feels like a minor misstep; surely, the unfinished business between Kol and Michael demands further exploration? Then again, Michael partially avenges Captain Georgiou, retrieving her precious Star Fleet badge that Kol had been using to pick the meat from his teeth.
On top of a truly tense episode – cutting between Ash having his break down and Stamets suffering in the spore chamber was knuckle-whiteningly stressful – the epilogue is equally gripping, with its promises of more thrills to come in the season’s second half.
Discovery’s jump to a somewhere they’re unable to identify – Stamets’ reference to parallel universe’s suggests that we may see an alternate Discovery crew, complete with Saturnine beards to indicate how evil they are… Or will all the references to events in Michael’s past come into play? Will she have a chance to rewrite history?
And what power does L’Rell hold over Ash? Is he Manchurian Candidate-style sleeper agent, waiting unwittingly to strike against his own comrades? Best of all, though, are the fleeting but tender scenes between Ash and Michael. Instead of will-they-won’t-they, the writers are ramping up the romance to Warp Factor 10 and that can mean only thing – their love is going run anything but smooth. And, with poor Stamets apparently surfing the multiverse in his scrambled mind, surely the same is true for him and Ken…?
Star Trek: Discovery is available on Netflix UK, as part of £7.49 monthly subscription. New episodes arrive every Monday, within 24 hours of their US release.