(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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Tyler 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.
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.
"We suspected the mycelial network extended beyond anything we'd imagined."
"A vast system underpinning all quantum realities."
"But the exact coordinates of some of the more esoteric destinations eluded us. Apparently the 133 jumps we made filled in the gaps."
"An extremely fortunate coincidence."
"I'd say unfortunate, wouldn't you, Number One?"
- - Gabriel Lorca, Michael Burnham, and Saru
"(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
"No way we're asking these neighbors for a cup of sugar."
- - Gabriel Lorca, on the Terran Empire
"I'm examining the crew manifest of mirror Discovery. You're not its captain."
"That... uh, that's me. That's me."
- - Michael Burnham, Gabriel Lorca, and Sylvia Tilly, upon finding out who captained the ISS Discovery
"Cadet, it looks like you're taking this."
"Uh, wh– uh wh–what– what do I say?"
"You just get rid of them as fast as possible. And you talk as little as possible."
"That's– uh that might be a little hard for– Have you noticed that I talk a lot?"
"Defy your every instinct."
- - Gabriel Lorca and Sylvia Tilly
"Hello, this is Captain Tilly, what the he–heck– hell– what the hell?! Hold your horses!"
- - Sylvia Tilly, answering the ISS Cooper for the first time, impersonating her mirror counterpart
"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 ISS Discovery."
- - Gabriel Lorca, narrating, Michael Burnham providing information to Sylvia Tilly and Saru
"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
"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
"Doc, I came here for a solution. Now you said you could fix it!"
"Please, sit down."
"I'm needed on a mission!"
"I'm afraid you're not going anywhere without further examination."
"They need me!"
"Well that's just it! As far as I'm concerned... you're not you."
- - Ash Tyler and Hugh Culber, after Culber discovers Tyler's Klingon transformation, and moments before Tyler kills Culber
"The enemy is here..."
- - Paul Stamets, in a trance
- Whereas this episode establishes that the strange area of space that the USS Discovery ends up in immediately prior to this episode is the mirror universe, the showrunners of Star Trek: Discovery knew as early as when the series began that they would be featuring the mirror universe in the show but were originally to have depicted it earlier in the show's run. "We were initially going to go to the mirror universe […] in episode four or five," said Executive Producer Aaron Harberts, "and we realized it was hard to go to a mirror universe when you don't know who the prime characters are yet. You know, at least for the audience, it's hard to say… until you know Stamets, it's hard to say who Stamets will be on the other side." (AT: "Despite Yourself") The writing staff, by the time they were writing episodes three and four, knew that they wanted the tenth episode to be set in the mirror universe. 
- Having planned to introduce the mirror universe into Star Trek: Discovery from so early in the show's creation, there was a lot of time to consider what the main characters might be doing in the mirror universe. The decision to make the Mirror Tilly a captain, for example, was inspired by the prime universe version of the character telling Burnham, in "Context Is for Kings", "I'm gonna be a captain someday." The producers opted for her mirror universe counterpart to have straight rather than curly hair so as to subvert a trope in which, according to Aaron Harberts, evil or stupid characters were often curly-haired women. (AT: "Despite Yourself")
- A plot point which was extremely important to the show's producers was that Doctor Culber dies not as some "hapless victim" but because he is, in Aaron Harberts' words, "the smartest person on the ship" and was beginning to figure out who Ash Tyler was; anybody who had done the same and then confronted him about it would have died. When they chose to have Culber die, the producers had every intention of resuming his relationship with Stamets in the future. (AT: "Despite Yourself")
- The show's producers ran Doctor Culber's death with GLAAD, to win over their approval and to avoid invoking a criticism that this plot point was adhering to a "bury your gays" trope. The organization issued their go-ahead to proceed with the storyline, aware that the producers planned not to make Culber's death final. 
- The exterior of the ISS Cooper was intended to be shown in this episode. However, there was insufficient time to make this happen, so the ship is only referred to in dialogue. (Star Trek: Discovery Designing Starships, p. 85)
- The idea of having Lorca temporarily adopt a Scottish accent was thought up in the DIS writers' room. "We were all gathered around thinking, 'Oh, what would be fun for…'" noted Aaron Harberts. Other aspects that inspired this notion were that the producers knew Lorca actor Jason Isaacs could perform comedy as well as many different accents and that one of Gretchen J. Berg's favorite things she had ever seen him do was a British series called Case Histories, which was shot in Edinburgh, a fact that linked Scotland with him in her mind. Said Berg, "It just was an opportunity, […] so to give him a bit of comedy was really, really nice." (AT: "Despite Yourself")
Cast and characters
- Actor Sam Vartholomeos assumed this episode would require him to portray Connor as an ensign in the prime universe instead of as a captain in the mirror universe. He didn't find out the truth about this until he arrived at the show's production base in Toronto and was accompanied into the wardrobe department by Gersha Phillips, who told him about the role he was about to portray. (AT: "Despite Yourself")
- Rather than find out about the upcoming death of Culber when he read this episode's script, actor Wilson Cruz discovered that his character was to die when the show's executive producers, because they were his friends, told him this news. "They gave me a very lovely phone call, which, by the way, when I saw their names, I was like, 'Oh my God, they're calling, so excited to talk to you guys. What's going on?'" Cruz recalled. (AT: "Despite Yourself") Since the previous episode had ended with a cliffhanger in which Culber became extremely concerned about Stamets' condition, Cruz was eager to learn what would happen to his character next but admittedly found the news hard to take.  Remembering how it was expressed to him, he continued, "[They said], 'You're going to die. But we love you, and it's really important.' There were tears, I won't lie about that, there were tears [….] I was sad, because I didn't know exactly what was going to happen." Cruz consulted Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg about the issue. "I just know that I […] talked to these two beautiful people who I trust and love, and I said to them, 'If this is the way it's going to go, I'm going to give you everything I have, until I go' [….] It was hard." (AT: "Despite Yourself") However, the storyline nevertheless "really excited" him. 
- Wilson Cruz was impressed by how this installment developed his character of Doctor Culber in general. "I think we learned a lot about Doctor Culber in this episode," he reckoned. "I think we learned that he's someone you don't want to mess with, and that he's incredibly smart but also that he has a big heart and that he can take on a lot and keep moving [….] And I like who I am right now… except for the dead part," laughed Cruz. (AT: "Despite Yourself")
- Wilson Cruz enjoyed working with Jason Isaacs and Tyler actor Shazad Latif on this installment, later commenting, "I have to say that my scene partners in this episode were unbelievable." (AT: "Despite Yourself")
- Shazad Latif was delighted to discover, while he was reading through the script, that he finally had a scene with Wilson Cruz. However, Latif was disappointed to find out, moments later, that there was only one between them in the entire episode. (AT: "The Wolf Inside")
- Wilson Cruz and L'Rell actress Mary Chieffo were highly impressed by Tilly's performance as the Mirror Tilly, with Cruz rating it five out of five and Chieffo joking that she thought it deserved a score of eleven out of five. Due to being highly amused by how Tilly actress Mary Wiseman played this comedic material, Chieffo remarked, "I mean, watching this, I was hysterical." She and Cruz particularly liked, later in the installment, Tilly's line that, if Connor greeted her in the same way as he was greeting Burnham (who was posing as the Mirror Burnham), she would cut out his tongue and use it to lick her boots. Chieffo called the line "amazing," and Cruz referred to it as "bad-assery on a whole other level." (AT: "Despite Yourself")
- Another element of the episode that both Mary Chieffo and Wilson Cruz regarded as successful was the fight scene between Captains Burnham and Connor, which Cruz remarked was "shot so amazingly". Chieffo agreed and called the sequence, in general, "so amazing." (AT: "Despite Yourself")
- Mary Chieffo also liked the tensity of the interplay between Tyler and L'Rell in the Discovery's brig. The actress commented, "I love that we have the dropping of the containment field and we get a little bit of that, and then when we come back near the end of the scene, just kind of amping that up even further [….] I love that vulnerability that is allowed in that scene [….] And I think it's heartbreaking, truly, in every which way." (AT: "Despite Yourself")
- By this episode, the DIS cast had gelled, which made Jonathan Frakes comfortable with collaborating with them. "Jonathan felt that our camaraderie as a cast was very familiar to him," noted Anthony Rapp. (Star Trek Magazine issue 192, p. 20)
- This was the first television episode of Star Trek to be directed by Jonathan Frakes since VOY: "Prototype" in 1995.
- Gersha Phillips was wowed by something Jonathan Frakes said during the making of this episode. "When Jonathan Frakes came and we were in a production meeting," she recalled, "he said how important costumes were to the process, that costumes are for characters and wardrobes are for clothing. Something really resonated with me in that, just that he understood, and most people will always say 'wardrobe'," she laughed. "And I'm like, 'No, it's the costume department.' You know, it's a very different thing." ("Dress for Success", DIS Season 1 DVD & Blu-ray special features)
- Rather than feel trapped by or want to walk away from the pressure to please many with his work on this installment, Jonathan Frakes fully committed himself to the project. "Jonathan totally embraced every aspect of it," observed Anthony Rapp. "This thing that he was part of meant so much to so many people [….] For him to come back, and be part of our version of Star Trek was meaningful." (Star Trek Magazine issue 192, p. 20)
- Wilson Cruz enjoyed working with Jonathan Frakes on this episode, later remarking that the director had been "like a dream. Again, so incredibly generous to me. Like, those were hard scenes, they were not easy scenes." He added that the difficulty was because the scenes were "wordy," with a lot of technobabble. "So, he gave me a lot of space," continued Cruz. "He gave me a lot of time to, like, get to where I needed to go, and I needed to go to some dark places." (AT: "Despite Yourself")
- Mary Chieffo was also impressed by how Jonathan Frakes directed this installment. (AT: "The Wolf Inside") She particularly gave kudos to him for directing the tense scene in which her character of L'Rell is released from confinement in the Discovery's brig by Tyler, Chieffo stating about Frakes, "He really guided us with this scene that is so complex and layered." She further explained, "Actually, a fun little thing […] happened when we were working on the wide shot." Specifically, since L'Rell didn't want Tyler to go, Chieffo found herself somewhat awkwardly wrapping her arms around Shazad Latif. Despite laughing about the situation, the actress also stated, "And that was the thing; Jonathan just kept pushing us to go there, and he continued to encourage me [….] He really encouraged us to take it to that next level and it was, you know, it was really, really exciting." Chieffo additionally cited Latif as having obviously been instrumental in the creation of the scene. (AT: "Despite Yourself")
- While working together at one point during the filming of this episode, Mary Chieffo and Shazad Latif referenced an in-joke they had originated during production on "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry", regarding "Mister Krada Leg". (AT: "The Wolf Inside")
- During a break in the filming of this episode, Mary Wiseman danced on the Discovery bridge set while Shazad Latif and Jason Isaacs were standing happily nearby. As she finished her dancing, they all burst into laughter. (AT: "The War Without, The War Within")
- For Wilson Cruz, the making of the scene where Culber and the captain have a tense conversation with each other regarding Stamets' medical care was enjoyable, especially collaborating with Jason Isaacs. "I just had such a fantastic time working with him and learning from him in that scene," Cruz stated. (AT: "Despite Yourself")
- Wilson Cruz found that the filming of the Culber death scene was very much helped by Tyler actor Shazad Latif, the other principal cast member in the scene. "Shazad and I hadn't worked together, and he was so generous and so there for me and completely apologetic throughout the whole scene," Cruz remembered. "'So sorry, so sorry, so sorry.' Every time he cracked my neck, he'd be like, 'I'm so sorry.'" (AT: "Despite Yourself") In turn, Latif commented about Cruz, "The way he dropped, the way he did his neck thing was so intense, it was actually scary." Since they only had the one scene between them, the pair of actors were eager to do it to the best of their ability. "We really wanted to make the most of that, and it was a very emotional scene," continued Latif. "That whole day, because, you know, Frakes, Jonathan Frakes was there, and he had this energy. And it was very sad, it was [….] Every time, I was just like, 'Sorry,' I'd pick him up. We were hugging in [between]– It was just very… You know, it was horrible." (AT: "The Wolf Inside")
- Shooting the fight scene between Captains Burnham and Connor was a challenge. "That was a fight and a half," remarked Sam Vartholomeos. "That was a whole day." The production crew filmed the shots for the fight scene from five different angles, including two from the turbolift doors and one from above. Filming the shots from the doors was easy enough, because there was sufficient space for Vartholomeos and his co-star in the scene, Burnham actress Sonequa Martin-Green. However, when A-Camera Operator Tony Guerin subsequently came inside the turbolift set with the actors, the space inside the set became extremely cramped. "Things got really tight, so we didn't do the whole thing," Vartholomeos continued. "We took it from where I say, 'I don't need a blade to kill you, captain,' and I go and punch her. And Jonathan Frakes was [very enthusiastically] like, 'Fantastic!' Sonequa and I are like, 'Yeah, you know, alright, let's do it.'" Martin-Green was meant to perform a kick to Vartholomeos' upper thigh but accidentally kicked him slightly higher, striking his genitals by mistake. "The funny thing was we were filming in slow motion," said Vartholomeos, "and it was nice, tight on Sonequa." Thus, the camera caught Martin-Green's shocked reaction in slow motion, as she first profusely apologized to her hurt scene partner and then indicated for the filming to be held up. "It was perfect," Vartholomeos stated about the footage. Then, when the camera turned on him and he was supposed to swing a punch at Martin-Green's head but miss, she didn't duck in time to avoid the blow so he accidentally punched her in the side of the head. Much to his surprise, though, she was thrilled, never having been punched on that part of her body before. Vartholomeos was happy with how the scene finally looked, commenting, "They did a great job." (AT: "Despite Yourself")
- While the ISS Cooper was intended to be shown on-screen, the vessel was planned to be a Malachowski-class ship, a class which had appeared earlier in the series. John Eaves tweaked its design, for its mirror universe variant, by adding red color accents and changing its layout at the back of the saucer section. However, the reason the Cooper ultimately wasn't depicted on-screen was that there wasn't enough time to build the model. (Star Trek: Discovery Designing Starships, p. 85)
- According to VFX Art Director William Budge, the ISS Buran was most likely represented as a Cardenas-class ship because that configuration of starship had been used so rarely before. (Star Trek: Discovery Designing Starships, p. 79)
- Mary Chieffo joked that a moment was cut from this episode that would have been after Ash Taylor exited from the brig and L'Rell realized her plan wasn't working. In the imagined cut scene, the camera stayed on L'Rell as she then she addressed the fourth wall, woefully admitting, "I hate Mondays." This hypothetical scene extension was thought up by After Trek host Matt Mira, although it was Chieffo who added, jestfully, that the moment had been excised. In response, Mira jested, "You know what? Good decision." (AT: "Despite Yourself")
Music and sound
- Composer Jeff Russo noted, "There's something at the end of Episode 10 that I'm really super happy about." 
- A musical cue from this episode was released in the soundtrack collections Star Trek: Discovery - Season 1, Chapter 2 and Star Trek: Discovery - Season 1, Chapters 1 & 2. Entitled "Burnham Take Over", this musical composition, in the episode, provides the soundtrack for Burnham arriving on the bridge of the ISS Shenzhou, taking command of the ship, and then arriving in her quarters onboard the vessel.
Continuity and trivia
- 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 was also recited in a deleted scene from "The Butcher's Knife Cares Not for the Lamb's Cry", by Voq and Or'Eq.
- It is established that the USS Discovery might have entered a different universe through detecting a quantum signature, the dialogue closely mirroring a similar scene in TNG: "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 (established in ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II"). In TOS: "Mirror, Mirror", Spock is depicted as serving as executive officer 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. Matt Mira observed that the introduction of the "Killy" personality of Mirror Tilly was foreshadowed by the prime version of the character being the first to notice a Klingon and draw her phaser on him in "Context Is for Kings". (AT: "Will You Take My Hand?")
- Lorca adopting a Scottish accent as the ISS Discovery's chief engineer references Montgomery Scott. Some (citation needed • edit) 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.
- In this episode, an introductory shot of Connor was evidently reused from the teaser of "Battle at the Binary Stars".
- Jonathan Frakes likened Burnham proceeding with the admittance of Lorca, her commanding officer, into an agonizer with Riker, in TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds", proceeding to order an attack on a Borg cube even though his commanding officer, Jean-Luc Picard, was aboard the vessel, in the guise of Locutus. (AT: "Vaulting Ambition")
Reception and aftermath
- AT: "Despite Yourself" 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 was the first explicit broadcast break in a Star Trek series, making this the first mid-season premiere in Star Trek history. AT: "Into the Forest I Go" debuted a trailer for Chapter Two which featured multiple clips from this mid-season premiere.
- This episode had its premiere airdate at a time when a popular but heretofore unconfirmed fan theory posited that "Ash Tyler" was actually the Klingon character Voq. Even after this installment's broadcast, Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg still declined to confirm or deny this theory.  Berg merely admitted that he was "a sleeper agent." (AT: "Despite Yourself")
- Wilson Cruz, Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg publicly insisted that this episode wouldn't terminate Doctor Culber's narrative arc and that his death in this installment was not another example of the "bury your gays" cliche. The producers were much more enthusiastic about exploring the highly flexible narrative possibilities of Star Trek storytelling than they were fearful about any immediate fan backlash, Harberts stating, "This is a beginning, rather than an ending [….] We have faith that if our audience is so enraged and thinks that we would actually lean into a [bury your gays] trope, then they don't really understand what we're about as storytellers [….] Why would we limit ourselves? Why would we limit the audience's experience, and why would we limit an opportunity to allow our gay characters to show the audience something truly profound?"  Harberts commented further, "There's no way that, as an out gay writer with an ensemble that's nothing but, you know, LGBT positive and a writing partner [referring to Berg] who has supported me my entire career in terms of being out and this, that and the other, there's no way that you hire Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz to play the first gay couple on Star Trek and have them go for ten episodes and say it's over." (AT: "Despite Yourself") Regarding the trope, Cruz added, "I give you my word that this is not what that is. What's being planned is something we haven't really had an opportunity to see LGBT characters experience." 
- For about four months during the lead-up to this episode's release, Wilson Cruz dreaded the day when the installment would be broadcast. Even immediately after the outing was aired, he still admitted that he was unprepared for how the Internet would react to the episode, due to the death of Culber, and pleaded for the viewers not to "hate" the show. He commented on audience reaction to the episode by stating, "I think '[…] it's totally okay for you to be sad, it's fine. I'm still here. I'm not going anywhere, this is a chapter in the lives of this epic love story [….] I hope people saw that it [performance-wise] was all on the stage there in this episode." Contrastingly, Sam Vartholomeos was admittedly well-acquainted with how the audience reacted to a character dying. (AT: "Despite Yourself")
- Aaron Harberts rated Tilly's performance as Mirror Tilly in this episode a score of five out of five. He also commented, "Lorca's great in this episode." An example Harberts cited of the captain's brilliance in this installment is the scene where, to take the pressure off Tilly, Lorca poses as the chief engineer of the ISS Discovery. "That moment is great, the way that he, you know, is good to Tilly in that moment, and then at the end, where he's willing to sort of sacrifice everything and suffer, you know, the worst pain imaginable." (AT: "Despite Yourself")
- Like her writing partner and fellow executive producer, Gretchen J. Berg ranked Tilly's portrayal of Mirror Tilly in this outing five out of five and believed Lorca is "great" in this installment. (AT: "Despite Yourself")
- With a laugh, Jonathan Frakes proudly called this "one of my favorite episodes." (AT: "Vaulting Ambition")
- Ted Sullivan noted, "Frakes killed that episode. That direction in that episode […] [is] spectacular." He also approved of Mary Chieffo's acting in the scene where L'Rell discovers the prayer isn't working, Sullivan citing the moment as an example of the actress' performance being "so amazing." (AT: "The Wolf Inside")
- Matt Mira agreed with Wilson Cruz's opinion that this episode established a lot of details about the character of Doctor Culber. Mira also approved of Mary Wiseman's performance of the line Tilly says to Connor to threaten him that, if he greeted her poorly, she would cut out his tongue and use it to lick her boots. Speaking from his perspective as a comedy writer, Mira remarked, "Mary as an actress, her comedy timing in that […] scene, where she has to jump on the comm is beautiful. It's natural, it's amazing." (AT: "Despite Yourself") He also remarked that the brutality of the Culber death scene "comes across" and added, "It's beautifully shot." (AT: "The Wolf Inside") While in conversation with Jonathan Frakes, Mira summarized his own feelings about the installment by commenting, "It was a great episode, beautifully directed." (AT: "Vaulting Ambition") He also stated, "It's good writing." (AT: "Will You Take My Hand?")
- The After Trek audience also rated Tilly's performance as Mirror Tilly in this installment five out of five. Matt Mira remembered, "It's funny. The door opened to where we show our audience the episode and […] I heard laughter, and I poked my head in to look, and it was that scene that was playing out." This was an exceptionally rare occurrence because "raucous laughter" usually wasn't audible from the audience while they watched the episodes. Mira humorously concluded, "I was like, 'This is a weird episode to be laughing at.'" (AT: "Despite Yourself")
- The same prop Tyler wears to extract a cube from the debris field in the first act of this episode was most likely reused for "Vaulting Ambition", in which L'Rell wears the prop to perform a reversal procedure. (AT: "Vaulting Ambition")
- 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
- 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)
- 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
- Tim Cody as ISS Shenzhou crewman
- Demi Oliver as a ISS Shenzhou transporter chief
- Al Vrkljan as ISS Shenzhou crewman
- Unknown performers as:
042; 50 Kills; 100 Kills; 20th century; ability; accent; adrenals; agony booth; Andorian; asshole; Battle of the Binary Stars; black alert; brainwashing; Bridge Crew; Burnham, Michael; Buran, ISS; chondroblast-cell scan; Constitution-class; Cooper, ISS; Cooper, USS; coordinates; 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; head; 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; non-human species; 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
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
ISS Discovery dedication plaque
- 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.: Sidarous, W.; 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"