Well, this episode certainly takes a turn.
We start pretty much where we left off: Pahvo has sent a signal to the Klingons, and they’re on their way to the planet to fuck its shit up.
We open on the Discovery’s bridge, where Admiral Terral is speaking with Lorca via hologoram. He orders them to jump back behind Federation lines. Lorca, however, thinks that this is a stupid order since the Klingons are unlikely to just destroy the transmitter and then leave.
Terral insists, however, citing that the mission has failed and that they’ll need the crew’s assistance in coming up with an alternative to the aforementioned transmitter. The captain still doesn’t like this, since the Pahvans are basically defenseless, but Terral says that the only logical thing for them to do now is to jump to Starbase 46 before cutting the transmission.
Lorca, being Lorca, puts his own spin on the orders he’s just been given, and orders them to head to the starbase at warp 5 rather than jumping. Saru protests at the idea of them leaving the planet, but Lorca assures him that this is all part of a cunning plan. See, at the speed they’re going, they wouldn’t get to the base for another 3 hours. This would give them some time to find a way to break the cloak, and then jump back to defend the planet.
As everyone else gets to work, Lorca suggests to Stamets that there may be something wrong with his implants, mostly to try and concoct a cover story about why they didn’t jump like the good admiral ordered them to. Stamets responds that they have been a bit itchy lately, and the captain tells him to have Culber run every test he can. Stamets objects, no doubt thinking about the events of the previous episode, but is overridden.
Credits happen, and Lorca announces they have less than two hours before they’re expected at the starbase (and even less than that before the Klingons arrive). He really hopes that they’ve figured something out, which Burnham and Saru, in fact, have done just that.
Basically, they’ve found very small fluctuations in the cloak, and think that by taking a look at said fluctuations, they should be able to come up with an algorithm to get through the cloak Just one small problem: in order to detect changes that small, they’d need to put sensors on the Ship of the Dead. Which is full of Klingons.
Lorca, however, is down with this plan and asks how they can get an away team on board. Tyler and Burnham outline their plan: use the Discovery as bait, and then use the tiny window between the Klingons’ cloak going down and their weapons going online to beam two people aboard.
As if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a second problem: under normal circumstances,it would take them days to get any useful information. Time which they most assuredly do not have. Lorca, however, thinks that they can try to speed things up a bit using the spore drive.
To that end, he goes to speak to Culber and Stamets, asking the doctor for a an update on the lieutenant’s condition.
Culber seems a little perturbed, and says Lorca’s “got more than [he] asked for” as far as issues with Stamets are concered. Stamets looks a little shamefaced as Culber explains: long story short, there’s weird stuff going on in his brain. Lorca asks if there’s any other side effects he’s been experiencing. He says that there aren’t, but Culber doesn’t want him taking any chances. The captain ignores this and tells Stamets to come with him, over Culber’s protestations.
The scene shifts to Lorca’s ready room, where he and Stamets are looking at some kind of schematic.
And here we get to the plan: Lorca wants Stamets to make 133 small jumps, around the Ship Of The Dead, in rapid succession. This, he hopes, will allow them to quickly get all the readings that they need in order to break their cloak.
Stamets is reluctant, and tells the captain that there has to be some other way to get the information that they need. The captain responds that he wishes Stamets wouldn’t have to make this sacrifice, but there really isn’t one.
He then appeals to Stamets’s curiosity, by showing him all the the different possibilities enabled by the spore drive, bringing up a holographic map. Stamets points out several pockets of negative mass that could lead to parallel universes. And I think we all know where this is going.
The captain tells him that they’ll need to win the war first, but afterwards they can explore to his heart’s content. This gets Stamets to agree to the plan, before leaving the ready room.
Lorca goes to the bridge, telling Tyler to prep a two-person team for the upcoming mission. Tyler suggests that he go, along with Burnham. The captain, however, really isn’t willing to risk Burnham on this mission, and tells him to pick someone else.
Burnham pushes back, pointing out that the sensors need to be placed in certain very specific areas of the ship, and that she’s the only one who’s been on board and knows how to get to those areas. The two go back and forth a bit, until Burnham pulls a Vulcan and tells her that not using her for this is illogical. He looks to Saru, then, reluctantly, gives her the go-ahead to accompany Tyler on the mission. She thanks him, and then the two walk away.
Cut to engineering, where Stamets is looking at the map Lorca showed him earlier and Tilly is working with a spore container. Culber enters, closes the map, and then starts setting up some medical equipment, while telling Stamets that he’s not going to stop him from doing this very stupid thing he’s about to do, but he should at least take some precautions.
Tilly, tells him that she’s glad Stamets finally told Culber about the side effects. Stamets, of course, has not, which she gathers from the expressions on their faces. She begins to apologize profusely. Culber, who is clearly less than pleased, tells her it’s OK, and that he’s sure Stamets has a very good reason for not telling him about it.
Stamets tries to smooth over the situation, but Culber shortly tells him that there’s no time right now before putting a monitoring device on his wrist and explaining its purpose. Stamets shoots another displeased look at Tilly, who mouths “sorry” before he enters the previously mentioned chamber.
Lorca gives a rousing speech over the intercom, about how they’re about to face their most difficult challenge, this is something they’ll tell their grandkids about, and so on. Rhys reports that they’re picking up a Klingon power signature around Pahvo, and Saru adds that the transporter room is standing by. Lorca then orders the ship to jump back to Pahvo.
We then cut to the Ship of the Dead, where Kol is looking at a rather scuffed Starfleet badge in his hand, clenching his fist around it as a member of his crew reports that the Discovery has arrived with their weapons charged.
Kol is quite pleased that the ship is there, and calls Starfleet fools for sending their most valuable starship to Pahvo alone. He orders his crew to drop the ships cloak and fire, adding that taking the ship and killing the crew will win the war and bring them glory. The crew shouts something in Klingon as the ship decloaks and prepares to attack.
Back on the Discovery, Tyler and Burnham prepare for their mission in the transporter room. Tyler puts a device on his chest, which Burnham also has, explaining that they’ll disguise their life signs as Klingon to avoid detection. They look at each other, then being transported.
On the bridge, Saru reports that they’ve made it to the Klingon ship. Lorca orders Detmer to start taking evasive maneuvers to keep the Klingons busy while Tyler and Burnham complete their mission.
We cut to Burnham and Tyler beaming aboard the Ship of the Dead. Tyler confirms that the immediate area is clear, and Burnham confirms that the pattern simulators are working and that the first drop point for the sensors is about 600 meters away from them.
They enter what appears to be a storage area, and get to work setting up the first sensor. While they’re working, Tyler asks how they get to the bridge. Burnham brings up a map and points out the route they’d need to take. With the first sensor now activated, they move on.
While on the way to the bridge, Burnham’s tricorder picks up something. She opens it up to see what’s going on, and finds something she doesn’t expect: the thing it’s picking up is human life signs. This confuses Tyler, since their intelligence held no indication that Kol had any human prisoners. Burnham tells him that they have to find and rescue whoever it is, but Tyler reminds her they have a mission to complete. Burnham manages to convince him by pointing out that the life signs are basically on the way, and their location might provide them a place to wait while the sensors do their thing.
They come to a door, which is, naturally, locked. Tyler tells Burnham that he’s giving her 60 seconds to unlock it before they move on. She starts to work on cracking the lock, but Tyler gets impatient and tells her to let him try, by prying the console off the wall and cutting some wires with a knife.
This works, and the two enter the room to find an unconscious Admiral Cornwell.
Burnham moves to her and turns her over, as Tyler finds that the room contains another occupant: L’Rell. She’s a lot happier to see him than he is to see her. By which I mean he has full on PTSD flashbacks.
Burnham introduces herself as Cornwell regains consciousness, and asks the admiral if she can walk. As she cannot feel her legs currently, the answer to that is no. Burnham props her into a sitting position on a wall, notices Tyler’s current distress, then notices L’Rell and shoots her.
Tyler collapses as Burnham tries to talk him down. Cornwell asks if he’s hurt, and Burnham explains his deal re: Klingons. She then explains why they’re there, and Cornwell tell her that she’s seen PTSD in action, and that Tyler’s not going to be much help at the moment.
Burnham looks at Tyler, then tells the admiral that she has to move on to the bridge, which Cornwell appears to be less than happy about. Burnham tells her she doesn’t have a choice, but adds that the Discovery will beam all three of them out when the mission is done. She then tells Tyler that she needs to go, he doesn’t respond, and she leaves.
We see the Ship of the Dead firing at the Discovery, before cutting to the Klingon ship’s bridge. Burnham enters, finds herself a hiding place, places the sensor, and hunkers down to wait until its activated.
On the Discovery’s bridge, Saru reports that they’re ready to receive the sensor’s data once the other ship cloaks again. Lorca responds, “Then let’s make it happen,” before calling for a black alert. He also orders them to be ready to fire photon torpedoes at the other ship, but “just a scratch,” since Burnham and Tyler are still on board.
The Ship of the Dead fires on the Discovery just as it makes a jump. On the bridge, Kol starts shouting, which Burnhma’s translator picks up as him asking what the other ship is doing. We get another shot of Discovery jumping again, and firing.
Kol then orders for the ship to cloak as the camera pans back to Burnham, looking rather understandably anxious.
On the Discovery, Saru reports that the other ship is cloaking, and Lorca orders engineering to begin jumping. In the aforementioned engineering, Tilly puts a spore container into the drive as Stamets tells his partner that he loves him.
The drive is activated, and Lorca says that they’re receiving the data they need from the other ship, and tells Stamets to “keep it up.” Culber, however, notices that Stamets’s heart rate is extremely high, and asks Tilly how many jumps are left. Tilly says that they have 96 to go.
Back on the Ship of the Dead, Cornwell is trying to talk Tyler down, without much luck.
And back to the Discovery, where Stamets is looking not so great. Tilly announces they’re up to jump 59. then 60, 61, and 62. Culber moves over to the spore chamber and asks his partner how he’s doing. Stamets, puzzlingly, replies, “There’s a clearing in the forest. That’s how they go.”
This alarms the doctor somewhat, and he tells the bridge that they need to stop the jumps. Lorca responds that they will do no such thing, and that it’s Culber’s job to keep Stamets running until the jumps are done. Culber clearly doesn’t like this, but administers a drug to Stamets that seems to help a bit as Tilly announces jump number 65.
On the Ship of the Dead’s bridge, and officer reports that they’ve found some possible sabotage. Kol assumes that L’Rell did something, and orders said officer to find her and cut off her legs. Charming He also decides that the Discovery is tricking them somehow, and that they’re leaving.
This is not something that Burnham wanted to hear, since they still need to gather data, and decides to reveal herself to buy some more time. By standing up and shooting two of Kol’s crew. Still hidden, she tells Kol that she wants to talk to him.
Kol is surprised to learn that their intruder appears to speak Klingon, and tells Burnham to show herself. She does, and explains that she was speaking to him through her universal translator, which she calls “an example of human ingenuity.” Kol is clearly not impressed, and responds, “All I see is another attempt by humanity to rob us of our identity.”
Burnham puts the phaser down, and identifies Kol as T’Kuvma’s replacement. Then she notices the Starfleet badge that Kol is holding. He asks her if she wants to take the place of the person that once held the badge, before adding that “it makes for a useful object to pick my teeth.” Which he proceeds to demonstrate. Again, charming.
Burnham decides to poke at Kol’s pride a little bit, and tell him that she thought Klingons were supposed to be honorable. Seeing as how Kol basically stole the ship they’re currently on, she wonders exactly how honorable he actually is. This seems to strike a bit of a nerve, and she adds that he wasn’t even there when the whole shebang got started. Kol asks how she knows this, and she tells him that she killed T’Kuvma.
Back to Tyler and Cornwell. She’s still trying to talk him down, with limited success. Her attempts become more frantic when she hears some Klingons nearby. She does manage to get through to him just before said Klingons enter the room by mentioning that Burnham is alone and in danger to which he responds by picking up a phaser and getting into a brief firefight with said Klingons before closing the door again.
Back on the bridge, Kol puts the pieces together and realizes that the badge he has would have belonged to her captain.. We then see that it is, indeed, Captain Georgiou’s badge.
Burnham confirms this, and says that she regrets that what she did that day caused the war. Kol, however is grateful, because if it wasn’t for the war, he wouldn’t have the position he now holds. He then orders her capture, gloating about how bringing T’Kuvma’s killer will force the last of his followers to fall in line.
Burnham isn’t going to go quietly, and tells Kol to prove himself worthy of capturing her by defeating her in combat. Kol laughs, slaps Georgiou’s badge on his chest, and throws Burnham a knife. He accepts, and the duel begins with Burnham picking up the knife and rushing him.
Back with the Discovery gang, Tilly is announcing the last few jumps. On the bridge, Lorca asks Saru how the algorithm is coming along; Saru answers that it should be ready in about 5 minutes. The rest of the bridge crew is somewhat pessimistic that they’ll last that long, but Lorca notices that the other ship hasn’t fired on them, and that they might be thinking of leaving. Either way, they’re not going anywhere until Tyler and Burnham are back on board.
Speaking of Burnham, she’s actually holding her own pretty well. That is, until Kol disarms her and grabs her by the throat, gloating, that killing her will secure his place as ruler of the Klingon Empire. He throws her away from him, after which Kol manages to score a hit on her shoulder. Burnham returns the favor by stabbing him in the knee, which honestly made me cringe a little, because ouch.
Back to the Discovery. Saru reports that the algorithm is complete, and that they should be able to bypass the cloak. Lorca orders for the away team to be transported back to the ship, and the transporter operator hails Tyler to tell him to be ready for that.
Tyler tells him Burnham’s on the bridge, and that they have a Federation POW to beam aboard as well. The transporter officer acknowledges this, and tells them that he’ll beam them aboard first. Just as this happens, L’Rell grabs onto Tyler and is beamed aboard with him.
We cut back to the duel, where Kol taunts Burnham, asking her if he’s really going to win this easily. Burnham gets the message from the transporter operator that they’re ready to pull her out, and tells him that’s it’s really not, grabbing Georgiou’s badge from Kol’s. She’s jumps over the railing and is beamed out just as Kol strikes, his knife just barely missing her. Kol is less than pleased by this development.
We cut to Saru reporting that Tyler and Burnham are back on board, with, to his surprise, Admiral Cornwell and a Klingon. Lorca calls them an “extra prize,” before ordering the destruction of the Klingon vessel with a photon torpedo spread . Saru complies, and the ship explodes.
Tyler and Burnham walk onto the Discovery’s bridge just in time to see the other ship destroyed, Burnham looking to Saru before looking down at the badge in her hand.
Sometime later, Lorca gives Admiral Terral a report on recent events. Terral lets the captain know that Cornwell arrived safely at Starbase 88, and is undergoing surgery, adding that she’s expected to make a full recovery from her ordeal. Lorca is pleased by the news, and asks for Terral to give her his regards.
Lorca adds that the admiral should receive their algorithm in about 11 hours, after it’s been refined a bit. Terral tells him “the sooner the better,” as there have been reports of cloaked Klingon ships heading for their territory. He adds that while they haven’t won the war quite yet, the outcome is looking good even considering the captain’s “unorthodox methods.”
Lorca decides to take that as a compliment. Terral tells him that they are to report to Starbase 46, and that Starfleet plans to give him a commendation upon their arrival before ending the transmission.
We cut to Burnham walking to Tyler’s quarters. He opens the door, telling her that she’s “cleaned up nicely” after her brawl. Burnham gives her compliments to Dr. Culber, and Tyler lets her in. She says that, thanks to them, the Ship of the Dead is gone, and Pahvo is safe. Tyler responds that it was really all her doing, considering that he was out of it for most of the mission.
She tells him that she knows he puts up a front of being fine, even though he’s really not, before asking why he had the reaction he did upon seeing L’Rell. Tyler then tells her about his time with the Klingons: L’Rell was the one who had tortured him.
He also states that he ended up doing some things he isn’t really proud of in order to survive. L’Rell, for some reason, took a fancy to him, and he did everything he could in order to try and encourage that. However, he adds that at least one good thing came out of all this trauma: he got to meet Burnham, and he thinks that makes it all worth it.
He asks her if she thinks that’s weird, and she puts her head on his shoulder as they grasp hands and tells him she doesn’t, and that she’s glad he’s there too. Tyler gets up, and Burnham says, “You get to live your life the way you deserve to. Not at war, but at peace.” Tyler responds, “I’ve found peace. Right here.” Then the two finally kiss.
We join another scene, where Stamets in a cargo bay, staring out a window. Lorca walks in, and tells Stamets that they’re planning to give him a medal, but he told them that Stamets deserves it more. Stamets says that’s not necessary, but Lorca insists that if it weren’t for him, their mission would have been a failure. He adds that the Klingons are on their way there, and that they’ve been ordered to Starbase 46.
Stamets asks if he needs him to jump them there, but Lorca says he’s done enough and that they’ll just use the warp drive. The lieutenant says that jumping would get them to safety quicker, and that he wouldn’t mind doing it again. Lorca thanks him, and then says that they’ll be able to explore whatever he wants after they’ve won the war.
However, Stamets says that when he said he’d make one more jump, that was exactly what he meant: he’d only make one more jump, and then he’s done with it for good; after that, he needs to have Starfleet Medical look at him and try to figure out what’s wrong with him. Lorca accepts this, and tells him he’s “served the Federation honorably.” Stamets responds, “Well, I’ll always have you to thank for the view.”
The captain laughs, then asks if Stamets is ready to go before leaving the cargo bay.
We then cut to Tyler having a dream/flashback to a sexual encounter with L’Rell. It’s probably the most explicit sex scene I’ve sever seen in Star Trek and is, considering the parties involved, questionably consensual. After said dream, he leaves Burnham sleeping on the couch and goes to see L’Rell in the brig. Note: L’Rell is wearing the most unflattering jumpsuit I’ve ever seen. Then again, she’s a prisoner, so maybe that’s the point.
He collapses into a kneeling position in front of her cell, asking what she’s done to him. Puzzlingly, for both Tyler and the audience, she responds, “Do not worry. I will never let them hurt you.” He looks at her in horror, then beats a retreat from the room as a call for the crew to man their stations comes over the intercom.
We go to engineering, where Culber is looking at the spore chamber as Stamets enters the room. Stamets greet his partner with a passionate kiss, which is interrupted by Lorca asking over the intercom if they’re ready to go. He responds that they are, then tells Culber about a moon near the starbase with a Kasselian opera house, which is currently playing La Boheme. Culber, smiling, asks if he’ll actually sit through that with him, and Stamets responds that he’ll have a lot of free time after this last jump.
Stamets then goes to the spore drive, but something goes wrong. When the drive activates, he starts screaming while the ship’s power fluctuates. Lorca calls to ask Tilly what just happened, and she tells him responds that the computer says there was an “incomplete navigation sequence.” Stamets stumbles out of the spore chamber before collapsing.
Tilly and Culber run over to him and turn him over as Culber starts to scan him. Tilly asks what’s wrong with him, and they notice that his eyes have gone all white. Stamets mumbles that he can “see them all. Infinite permutations. It’s…magnificent.”
Back on the bridge, Lorca asks for a status update. Owoskun says that there’s some structural damage to the ship, but all the systems are holding for the moment. However, they currently have another problem: Starbase 46 is not where it’s supposed to be. Instead, the ship is currently surrounded by a field of debris.
Honestly, I’ve been looking forward to this bit, because I know what’s coming up after this. That’s right, folks, we’re about to take a dive into the mirror universe.