the story: The crew finds itself stranded in the Mirror Universe.
what it's all about: So, the serialized story continues, in an unexpected new direction. Or, new for Discovery, but hugely familiar in the franchise at large. Mirror Universe? Does that mean nothing to you? In the original series, "Mirror, Mirror" introduced the Mirror Universe (and that explains the name, too), which famously featured Goatee Spock, where the gimmick was everyone there was basically the evil counterpart of everyone here. Flash-forward to Deep Space Nine's "Crossover," where the story picks up again, and then continues throughout the rest of that series, mostly one episode a season. And then Enterprise had the two-part "In a Mirror, Darkly," where the origin of the Mirror Universe is revealed (and ties in with First Contact), among other things.
"Despite Yourself" actually has a tie-in to that one, which is also a tie-in to the original series episode "The Tholian Web," where a lost ship called the Defiant is found. "Web" didn't state that the ship was in the Mirror Universe, but "Mirror, Darkly" established that. And so now Discovery does, too.
There's plenty of Discovery-specific material, too. "Despite Yourself" is a direct continuation of "Into the Forest I Go," which means Lorca and Stamets are responsible, indirectly (or was Lorca deliberately leading the ship there? fans wonder!), for getting everyone to the Mirror Universe. Speaking of Stamets, he's beginning to look, more and more, like he's going to be the latest Star Trek character to flirt with godhood, a tradition that also goes all the way to the original series. Seeing him with the pupil-less eyes is spooky! And just another thing being serialized. We'll see.
And what about Tyler? We find out that he's been overwritten (or underwritten?) by the Torchbearer from the early episodes of the series. That's another fan theory confirmed after a fashion. To finally have that mystery solved is pretty huge, and arguably the most important element of the episode.
My only gripe? That this is the kind of episode that needed to hit harder than it did. Serialization has its drawbacks. The biggest one is that when a story doesn't have resolution within a single episode, a given episode can't stand on its own as well as it might otherwise seem it does. A different series would've dealt with Tyler's revelation as the whole episode, and yet here it's just a subplot being explored across multiple episodes.
- franchise - Return to the Mirror Universe!
- series - The latest twist in the journey!
- character - But the big reveal? Tyler is basically the Torchbearer.
essential- Juggling these elements, in this case, diminishes the impact of the whole.