Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Discovery 1x14 "The War Without, the War Within"

rating: ***

the story: The crew strategizes against the Klingons.

what it's all about: For me, this is a considerable rebound from the previous episode, which took some dramatic leaps I wasn't entirely comfortable with.  In a lot of ways, "The War Without, the War Within" is a thesis statement, explaining the overall philosophy of the series.  We'd known all along that lead character Michael Burnham struggled against the perception others had of her, as we followed the exact events that caused her problems.  As the season has progressed, we've seen other characters mirror that journey.  If Lorca seemed to leave without redemption, it now seems all part of that tapestry, the problem of perception and reality, and the need to reconcile them.  Because after seeing what happened to Lorca, the story now pivots to Tyler and Georgiou.  We know why Lorca chose to overlook Burnham's faults.  Can she manage the same with them, and why?

With Tyler, Burnham is experiencing firsthand what she did to Georgiou, and how the rest of Starfleet grew to see her as a result.  She doesn't know how she moves forward with him.  With Mirror Georgiou, she's compromised by her guilt over what happened to her Georgiou; she's incapable of being objective about her.  And yet in both relationships, her reactions and thought process are hugely subjective, and it's hurting everyone involved.  Tyler desperately wants to find himself again, just as Burnham had at the start of the season.  Mirror Georgiou has no such doubts.  She's as eager as Lorca had been to use circumstances to her advantage, and doesn't care who's hurt in the process.  We see a glimpse of Stamets being that cold, to Tyler, but at least with him we can sympathize to an extent.  Every character, every scenario, it's all calculated in this series, reflecting each other.

The greater arc of the Klingon war becomes less important, in all this, even while we see Admiral Cornwell return, totally overwhelmed by things, so that the certainty and even doubt the main characters are experiencing seem infinitely more appealing.  Even Sarek feels ineffectual, too easily manipulated, disconnected from the intricacy of the moving parts in the web the series has been weaving.  It's one thing to be caught up in Mirror Georgiou's machinations.  Lorca operated much the same way.  What sets the main characters apart is that they have an ability to use their doubt against these plans. 

criteria analysis:
  • franchise - This one's for Discovery fans. 
  • series - It speaks directly to the heart of the arc we've followed all season.
  • character - Motivations become clearer, and how Burnham is caught in the middle.
  • essential - It's an explanation that's essential to understanding the series.
notable guest-stars:
Michelle Yeoh (Mirror Georgiou)
James Frain (Sarek)

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