(written from a Production point of view)
With the Discovery's spore drive taking them into the mirror universe and Lieutenant Stamets completely incapacitated, the crew discovers the horrors of the Terran Empire and must masquerade as their counterparts to find a way home. Lieutenant Tyler discovers there may be more to his post-traumatic stress disorder than just remembering torture at the hands of the Klingons.
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The crew tries to find out where they are. The USS Discovery's sensors are recalibrating. The star charts are confirmed, but no man-made signals check out. Around them, the Klingon wreckage has odd hull signatures and Federation weaponry is detected. Just then, a Vulcan vessel approaches and starts to fire. The ship defends itself and gets a hail from what sounds like the USS Cooper. They're told not to worry about the "rebels." Captain Gabriel Lorca notes the Cooper is undergoing a refit, making it odd it would be on duty.
Act One Edit
Lorca tells the crew his theory, that they're in another universe. Michael Burnham wants to examine the data more, but Lorca is focused on just surviving.
In sickbay, Sylvia Tilly talks to Paul Stamets as he is dazed by his condition. Doctor Hugh Culber has to grab him when he gets up. He does so again, but, this time, is thrown toward the wall hard. Culber's fine with it, though, knowing it isn't on purpose, and calmly guides Stamets back to bed. Tilly apologizes to Culber for keeping Stamets' secret. Lorca arrives and Culber informs him of Stamets' state. Lorca wants a different doctor to work on Stamets, noting his bias. Culber objects but relents.
Ash Tyler is sent out into space to find a Klingon data core in the wreckage, hopefully one with information about this universe. He starts to freak out again from his ordeal, and has trouble focusing. He comes to and notes the pilots of the nearby ship are Vulcan and Andorian. He then gets the data core.
L'Rell, in the brig, is confronted by Tyler again. This time, he gets flashes of surgeries. L'Rell says she'll tell him everything if she lets her out. Oddly, he obeys. She speaks Klingon to him, and he snaps a seemingly programmed response back. After a moment, he oddly finds himself on the other side of the room. Angry, he takes his phaser to her. She then gets afraid, saying something is wrong. Tyler snaps back and puts the force field back up. He runs away, shocked at what he did.
Act Two Edit
Tyler is pondering in the mess hall when Burnham finds him, wanting to talk about his freak out earlier. He admits it was worse that time. Burnham wants him to tell the captain, and he says he will, but on his own time. He asks her to trust him in the meantime. Surprisingly, after she leaves, he gets another flash and cuts his hand as he breaks the glass he was holding.
In engineering, Tilly is able to get the data core open and, interestingly, finds Vulcan technology inside. Burnham leaves to investigate, but not without taking a look at the chamber and hoping Stamets gets better.
Later, Burnham reports to Lorca that she confirmed they are in another universe, one with a Terran Empire, and each of them has another in this universe. The Empire is the antithesis of their Federation, and non-humans are rebels. They get a hail from the ISS Cooper. It's a mad dash for enough information to answer it legitimately so as to not arouse suspicion. Saru believes they switched places with the ISS Discovery so they won't run into them. Lorca goes to answer the hail, but Burnham stops him, noting the captain of the Discovery is actually Sylvia Tilly. Lorca points Tilly to the chair to answer it, and she fumbles it a bit until bringing in Lorca as their chief engineer to explain away the lack of viewscreen and not needing assistance.
The crew then fashions the right uniforms and all the details for each of their mirror counterparts.
Act Three Edit
Burnham finds out about hers and Lorca's counterparts. Lorca is blown away, and notes that destiny is being demonstrated. Burnham doesn't believe in it, though. She informs him that the Emperor has little information recorded, but is very savage. Lorca has a plan to enact to get them back to the prime universe.
With the senior staff, his plan is laid out: find out how the USS Defiant got into this universe in order to find a way back out, however, to get that information they'll have to pose as their mirror counterparts to get onto a Terran ship. With Michael Burnham taking Gabriel Lorca back as a prisoner, Burnham should be able to take command of the ISS Shenzhou. Saru doesn't like the plan.
Tyler goes to Culber to examine him for any manipulation. Culber is reluctant, as he's already had examinations, but agrees to run a deeper scan. During, their heads turns as Stamets yells out "stay out of the palace." Culber gives him a brief kiss, and Stamets oddly then says "the enemy is here."
Tilly worries with Burnham as she gets her new uniform on, that she won't be able to project enough strength. Burnham supposes they're all in fear all the time, providing a facade. Lorca then arrives in a jacket and the plan starts. Tilly takes command of the bridge and hails the Shenzhou. The captain is the ops officer, Danby Connor. Tilly introduces Burnham and Lorca, and Connor eventually agrees to change course to them.
Tyler goes back to Culber for more information on the scan. Culber now says he finds physical modifications and another personality present. He wants to ground Tyler, which is much more than he was expecting. Tyler silences him by killing him.
Act Four Edit
The Shenzhou arrives. Burnham and Lorca leave to the transporter room to beam over, and Tyler meets them there, apologetic for being late. Lorca gives final instructions and they're off. Lorca is escorted to the agonizer room, though Burnham demands he not be touched except by her. She goes with Connor to the bridge. During the ride, Connor starts to talk about his rise to power and laments that the crew doesn't follow him as loyal as they did her. He tries to kill her, but in the struggle she bests him. When they reach the bridge, his body falls to the ground and the crew claps.
At the end of the day, Burnham finally reaches her quarters. She finds Tyler there and admits she hasn't had a single moment to try looking for the Defiant files. He heard about the assassination attempt and consoles her. He promises to protect her, no matter what.
Back in the agonizer room, Lorca screams with pain.
Memorable quotes Edit
"(In Klingonese) Whom do we seek?"
"How do we find him?"
"Give us light to see."
"Will he hide from us always?"
- - L'Rell and Ash Tyler
"You are a captain now."
"No, I'm not. She is. I'm nothing like her, Michael. She's terrifying, she's... she's like a twisted version of everything I've ever aspired to be. I'm gonna have nightmares about myself now."
"You don't actually have to be her."
"But how do I project that strength?"
"I've been trying to understand them better. And Terran strength is born out of pure necessity. Because they live in constant fear. Always looking for the next knife aimed at their back. Their strength is painted rust. It's a facade. But you have the strength of an entire crew that believes in you. Fortify yourself with our faith in you. That's what a real captain does."
- - Michael Burnham and Sylvia Tilly
"To successfully crash a party, you have to look like you belong. You must project confidence."
"You gained the rank of captain by stabbing your previous superior in bed. He was recovering from Crestian flu."
"That's not... that's not possible.
"It's more than possible. Your nicknames include The Slayer of Sorna Prime..."
"Every detail of this so-called Terran Empire must be replicated exactly."
"...The Witch of Wurna Minor..."
"Wherever we may fall short, we have to get creative."
"Captain Killy? Well, that's not very clever."
"Our very survival relies on our ability to maintain this cover. No matter what. We are now the I.S.S. Discovery."
- - Gabriel Lorca, narrating, Michael Burnham providing information to Sylvia Tilly, and Saru
"Well, let's not keep these assholes waiting. Too much?"
"No, not here. Here, it's just right."
- - Tilly, attempting to adapt to the mirror universe, with Lorca's response
"Is that how you treat your long-lost captain? If you greeted me that way, Connor, I'd cut out your tongue and use it to lick my boots."
- - Sylvia Tilly, impersonating her mirror counterpart
Log entries Edit
Background information Edit
- This is the first television episode of Star Trek to be directed by Jonathan Frakes since VOY: "Prototype" in 1995.
- The show's producers ran Culber's death with GLAAD to win over their approval and to avoid invoking the "bury your gays" criticism. 
- L'Rell attempts to use a Klingon prayer to reawaken Ash Tyler's memories of Voq. This prayer was previously used in "Battle at the Binary Stars" where it was recited by Voq and T'Kuvma shortly before the latter's death.
- It is established that the ship might have entered a different universe through detecting a quantum signature, the dialog closely mirroring a similar scene in "Parallels". This is also the first explicit hint that the mirror universe is of the same nature as the infinite quantum realities of that episode.
- The Vulcans or a faction of them are shown to be once more in rebellion against the Terran Empire, a century after the mirror Hoshi Sato used the USS Defiant to become Empress of the Terran Empire in January 2155. In "Mirror, Mirror", Mirror Spock is depicted as serving as XO and science officer of the ISS Enterprise in 2267, under the mirror universe version of Captain Kirk.
- The ISS Shenzhou and ISS Discovery are shown not to have their doors marked with the emblem of the Terran Empire anywhere aboard, unlike either ISS Enterprise or the ISS Avenger. Although the emblem doesn't appear on the doors of the ships, it is shown emblazoned on the floor of the ISS Discovery bridge.
- The emblem of the Terran Empire is shown in a different design than previously shown in both "Mirror, Mirror" and the "In A Mirror, Darkly" two-parter. Curiously, the Earth itself is mirrored in the emblem, which was not previously the case.
- Chronologically, this is the earliest reference to the Klingons of the mirror universe.
- Tilly being captain in an alternate universe was foreshadowed in "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum", when an increasingly confused Stamets addresses her by that rank.
- Lorca adopting a Scottish accent as the ISS Discovery's engineer references Montgomery Scott. Some have taken this to mean Lorca probably either knew or knew of Scott by the time this episode is set.  (At this point in time, Scott had been in Starfleet for about fifteen years.)
- Burnham impersonating her mirror counterpart (who is presumed dead) is reminiscent of Benjamin Sisko having to impersonate his presumed dead counterpart in DS9: "Through the Looking Glass".
- This is the first time that a ship is seen impersonating its mirror universe counterpart with the USS Discovery having its hull remarked to read ISS Discovery and other Imperial Starfleet hull markings to appear as its double.
- After Trek "Episode 9" discusses the making of, and events in, this episode.
- At the Continuing Voyage Tour convention in Chicago on 16 September 2017, Jonathan Frakes revealed that Star Trek: Discovery would be doing a mirror universe episode.  
- CBS All Access promoted this episode as the start of "Chapter Two", as it aired eight weeks after the previous episode, which was promoted as the end of "Chapter One". While previous series often had periods which did not see a new first-run episode being broadcast (usually rerunning earlier episodes in the interim), particularly when in syndication, this is the first explicit broadcast break in a Star Trek series, making this the first mid-season premiere in Star Trek history.
Production history Edit
- 9 November 2017: Title publicly revealed 
- 7 January 2018: Premiere airdate on CBS All Access
- 8 January 2018: International release date (outside Canada and the USA)
Links and references Edit
- Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham
- Doug Jones as Saru
- Shazad Latif as Ash Tyler
- Anthony Rapp as Paul Stamets
- Mary Wiseman as Sylvia Tilly / Sylvia Tilly (mirror)
Guest starring Edit
- Wilson Cruz as Hugh Culber
- Mary Chieffo as L'Rell
- Sam Vartholomeos as Danby Connor / Danby Connor (mirror)
- Emily Coutts as Keyla Detmer / Keyla Detmer (mirror)
- Patrick Kwok-Choon as Rhys
- Julianne Grossman as Discovery Computer
- Sara Mitich as Airiam
- Ali Momen as Kamran Gant
- Oyin Oladejo as Joann Owosekun
- Ronnie Rowe Jr. as Bryce
- Chris Violette as Britch Weeton
- Romaine Waite as Troy Januzzi
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- Tim Cody as ISS Shenzhou crewman
- Demi Oliver as a transporter crew member
- Al Vrkljan as ISS Shenzhou crewman
- Unknown actor as Captain Spoeneman (voice)
Stunt double Edit
042; 50 Kills; 100 Kills; 20th century; accent; adrenals; agony booth; Andorian; Battle of the Binary Stars; black alert; brainwashing; Bridge Crew; Burnham, Michael; Buran, ISS; chondroblast-cell scan; Constitution-class; Cooper, ISS; Cooper, USS; coup; Crestian flu; cultivation bay; data chip; data core; dinner; Discovery, ISS; Defiant, USS; Elpha; emperor; evasive maneuvers; fascism; femur; First Officer; galactic center; Galactic Time; Gotthelf; Imperial Starfleet Academy; interphasic space; Isik; kilometer; Klingon raider; laser cannon; lateral vector transporter; Lorca, Gabriel; lunch; Manchurian test; marrow-diminution procedure; Master of Poisons; meter; mirror universe; moisture level; mycelial network; neurological disregulation; omelet; Organia; pad thai; personality engram; Porathia; PTSD; pulled pork; Purmata VI; Quam; quantum reality; quantum signature; radius; racism; random memory sampling; relative humidity; Sarcophagus; Sector 006; Shenzhou, ISS; Sorna Prime; spice; spinal cord; spore drive; spore germination rate; Starbase 46; Starfleet; Starfleet Medical Center; Starfleet; superior officer; Terran Empire; Terran Empire rebellion; Tilly, Sylvia; Valor; Vulcan; Vulcan cruiser (rebel cruiser); witch; worker bee; Wurna Minor; xenophobia; yellow alert
Menu references Edit
bacon; beef stew; beef with mushrooms; breakfast; chicken; chicken stew; chocolate cake; coconut crisp; egg; fish and chips; fruit; ham; ham schnitzel; ice cream; lasagna; salad; soup; steak; vegetable; yogurt
- Latin; Tranquility Base
- Starfleet Command: Alexander, J.; Baiers, A.; Berg, G.; Beyer, K.; Cochran, S.; Coleite, A.; Fuller, B.; Goldsman, A.; Harberts, A.; Kadin, H.; Kim, B.; Kurtzman, A.; Lippoldt, E.; Menosky, J.; Meyer, N.; Powers, K.; Siracusa, F.; Sullivan, T.; Sweeny, C.; Weber, J.
- Fleet Ops: Gayford, J.; Hetrick, G.; Lafferty, K.: Orfanidis, K.; Osunsanmi, O.; Page, N.; Phillips, G.; Simkin, M.; Sitowitz, O.; Suskin, M.; Till, D.; Zimmerman, J.
- Research and Development: Danby, C.; Dinucci, T.; Felton-Lui, K.; Gebacz, C.; Goldstein, M.; Gross, J.; Gross, K.; Grove, T.; Johnson, R.; Maranville, A.; Sampson, E.; Schultz, B.; Silvestri, C.; Trifunovic, A.
- Science Ops: Allemang, I.; Carella, M.; Clement, J.; Cummings, D.: Deverell, T.; Dudkowski, J.: Fifield, B.; Frakes, J.; Fraser, R.; Gamzon, S.; Hemwall, G.; Hoult, C.; Keenan, G.; Marrello, B.; Middleton, M.; Penman, C.; Reed, R.: Sealey, S.: W. Sidarous; Staley, T.I.; Steel, M.; Tata, F.: Vivian, R.
- Tactical Ops: Augustyn, N.: Bretecher, C.; Brock, K.; Budge, W.: Delic, G.; Daprato, B.: Eaves, J.; Edmund, M.; Isaacs, H.; Kim, J.; Kirk, J.; Lai, R.; McCallum, R.: Moreira, M.; Morgan, M.: Nicolakakos, P.: Norton, D.; Peel, T.; Poulin, E.; Schneider, S.; Simonelli, M.; Tsang, A.
- Yard Engineers: Berg, K.; Feldheim, D.; Hall, K.; Henry, J.; McNamara, J.; Metrose, L.; Miller, L.; Neir, O.; Stapf, D.
- Chief of staff: Roddenberry, R.; Roth, T.
- CNC: Roddenberry, Gene
- "Despite Yourself" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Despite Yourself" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Discovering the Mirror Universe" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
|Mirror universe-related episodes|
|ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly" • "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II"|
|DIS: "Into the Forest I Go" • "Despite Yourself" • "The Wolf Inside" • "Vaulting Ambition" • "What's Past Is Prologue"|
|TOS: "Mirror, Mirror" • "The Tholian Web"|
|DS9: "Crossover" • "Through the Looking Glass" • "Shattered Mirror" • "Resurrection" • "The Emperor's New Cloak"|
| Previous episode:|
"Into the Forest I Go"
| Star Trek: Discovery|
| Next episode:|
"The Wolf Inside"