(written from a Production point of view)
Michael Burnham and the USS Discovery crew are faced with the war that has been ongoing during their absence. Starfleet tries to think outside of the norm for their next tactics and actions in the fight with the Klingons.
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The USS Discovery is being repaired as Saru goes to the transporter room to meet Michael Burnham. He's shocked to find Philippa Georgiou there and quickly declares her presence to be classified to all there, including the operator, and her confined to quarters. He's then called to sickbay and he brings Burnham to talk with him. She apologizes for bringing Georgiou back. They need to fix the ship for the coming confrontations they will have. He informs her of Ash Tyler's condition and asks her to try bringing him out of his condition, bringing the Human personality up front. She can't face him, and declines. Saru enters and is informed that there's little evidence of the Klingon side, but he's neither human nor Klingon at this point.
Saru talks to Tyler. He admits he can access Voq's memories and explains it was a program to infiltrate Starfleet. Voq and L'Rell hoped to take Discovery and, by doing so, draw followers. Saru asks for more information, and Tyler complies. He seems troubled at killing Hugh Culber and thinks he should be in the brig, but Saru considers it not his fault. However, he does have Tyler wear a monitor.
Saru, back on the bridge, sees that they're encountering a ship. Soon, they are boarded – led by Katrina Cornwell and Sarek. Cornwell immediately overrides the computer without explaining and Sarek mind melds with Saru, confirming he is as he appears. He also confirms that Lorca is dead.
Cornwell is shocked at learning the full truth of Lorca's deception. She had seen the Discovery was destroyed nine months prior, and Saru explains it was the ISS Discovery. She realizes her real Gabriel Lorca has probably been dead. She then recounts the history of the war, mostly a losing one. Burnham notes there's no logic to the targets and Sarek explains each Great House is out for itself, fighting Starfleet for dominance without unity. Cornwell orders all information about the mirror universe deleted from the ship, as the enemy cannot get that information. Paul Stamets explains they ran out of spores so they'll have to use warp drive. Cornwell orders them to starbase 1. Burnham also informs her of the Emperor.
Cornwell and Sarek meet Georgiou. When they ask Georgiou what she knows, she says she wants to go back to her universe, whereas Burnham asks for political asylum. Cornwell says they can't anyway, besides being in the middle of a war.
Tyler is now free about the ship. He runs into Stamets and, after a tense moment, apologizes for killing Culber. He remembers doing it, and insists it sickens him. Stamets briefly tells him Culber was a good man and walks away. Tyler then goes into the mess hall and everyone quiets down. He gets his food and sits alone. Tilly then decides to sit with him, and eventually the others do, too. Tyler says they don't have to do that, but they stay put.
Saru is on the bridge as they approach the starbase. Cornwell takes command and is informed that they can't get in contact. Indeed, after coming out of warp, they find the starbase destroyed, with the House of D'Ghor sign on it. 80,000 people dead. Cornwell is shocked. They are soon scanned and Saru has to order to ship to retreat. Cornwell falls into her chair and Saru reminds her for orders. She wants to contact Starfleet Command and heads to the ready room.
L'Rell is approached by Cornwell and supposes they understand each other. L'Rell admits that T'Kuvma was wrong about humans not having courage. Cornwell then explains the situation to her: the Houses are winning the war, but not unified as she wanted. L'Rell is startled, but unconcerned, still believing the Federation must be destroyed for its mission of homogenization and assimilation. Cornwell challenges this, saying they are about equality. L'Rell reiterates T'Kuvma's teaching, and Cornwell calls him ignorant. She then asks L'Rell how the war will end. She replies that it won't.
Burnham meets Georgiou to say she'll be on the ship awhile still, but she doesn't care. She turns the conversation to Burnham's relationship to Sarek, and is surprised to find the same relationship she had to her Michael Burnham. Burnham wants to know how the Terrans defeated the Klingons, but Georgiou challenges her about her weakness, saving her when she couldn't save her captain. Seeing that this made an impact, she then turns to the Klingons, calling them a cancer, dividing endlessly. She recommends destroying them at their source, Qo'noS.
Burnham then goes to Cornwell with a proposal. Cornwell in turn brings it to the other Admirals. They're reluctant, as an attack on Earth is imminent and Qo'noS is uncharted. Cornwell has a plan, though.
The Discovery team plans their move: growing spores, jumping the ship into the inside of the planet, then using drones to map it. Stamets knows where to grow the spores, a moon named Delta 2.
Sarek goes to meet Georgiou on her request. She notes similarities between the two Burnhams and then offers more information on the mission, since more will be needed. Sarek is reluctant, but he feels forced to take it. She demands freedom in exchange.
Sarek walks with Burnham on his way out to Vulcan to discuss Georgiou's additional plan. He doesn't inform Burnham, though, preferring to warn her not to regret loving someone, even if it turned out badly.
Burnham goes to engineering for a status report. Tilly says they're on time. Burnham admits she may not see Sarek again and feels different this time. Tilly relates her awareness of the darkness within her as she took command of the ISS Discovery, and noted she had to understand it. Burnham says she can't forgive Tyler, but Tilly says he needs her, noting there's no future for him now. She should at least talk to him.
Discovery arrives at the moon and ejects the mycelium in little pods. After awhile, the spores quickly grow.
Tyler ponders by himself and finds Burnham finally facing him. She won't approach him initially. Tyler apologizes for everything and insists Voq is gone. Burnham believes him, but still asks if it's really him, since he should have had her back earlier. He then accuses her of wanting an excuse to leave, which shocks her. She denies it, but then supposes it was true, saying it felt like it was him choking her earlier. He says he should be a spy by now, but the reason it didn't trigger was her. She's stunned, and views the planet, relating her emotions after the Battle of the Binary Stars. She then goes, saying it won't be easy to let him go.
Cornwell communicates with Sarek, informing that the spore harvest worked. Sarek says the Federation Council has approved the plan, having no choice. Cornwell makes a shipwide hail from the bridge, noting their situation and declares the mission to map Qo'noS. Then, she introduces their guide, Captain Philippa Georgiou, newly found with a backstory explaining her disappearance. Burnham is tense as Georgiou calmly takes command.
"The Discovery's been through... an inconceivable ordeal."
"Then where the hell is her commanding officer?"
"Captain Lorca... is dead."
- - Sarek and Katrina Cornwell
"Bastard! The Lorca I came up with was measured, he was reasoned. I couldn't have imagined..."
"That Lorca was an impostor from an alternate universe was not the most obvious conclusion. We were all deceived."
- - Katrina Cornwell and Sarek, on Lorca's true colors
"We have charted a course for Starbase 1. You will be held there, humanely, until Command can determine a proper course of action."
"So I am your prisoner."
"Look, your highness, or whatever you're called, I'll tell it to you straight. I'm not even sure we know how to send you home, and even if we did, we have a war to fight."
- - Katrina Cornwell and Philippa Georgiou
"Stamets... I'm sorry. Words– words are not enough, and I know that. But I am."
"You killed a good man. A man that I loved. Do you remember that?"
"I do now."
"And... does it gut you? Does it sicken you? ... Good. Maybe you're still human after all."
- - Ash Tyler and Paul Stamets
"This is war, not a child's game with rules. We fight to preserve Klingon identity."
"No one is looking to destroy your culture! Our laws are founded in equality! Freedom!"
"T'Kuvma taught us that the Federation cannot help itself. It seeks universal homogenization and assimilation."
"T'Kuvma was an ignorant fool! And your people are moving closer and closer to my home planet. What are you looking for?! More territory? Conditional surrender? I mean your people won't even make demands. Why? How does this war end?"
"It doesn't. Klingons have tasted your blood. Conquer us, or we will never relent."
- - L'Rell and Katrina Cornwell
"The Klingons are like cancer cells: constantly dividing. To root them out, you must destroy the tumor at its source."
- - Philippa Georgiou
"Your child is lost."
"Do not confuse my ward with yours."
"My daughter was a singular example of brilliance until one foolish choice doomed her world. Sound familiar?"
"If I understand correctly, my ward saw through the man who brought down, not just your child, but your empire. Perhaps best not to make comparisons."
- - Philippa Georgiou and Sarek
"In my world, Qo'nos is little more than a blackened mass of dust. The Klingons fight for scraps and fear certain death. But it took a great deal more than a mapping drone and a cave to get there."
"You assured Michael that your plan would prove effective"
"And it will. Momentarily. But they will regroup. Their longing to destroy the symbol that is Earth runs far too deep."
- - Philippa Georgiou and Sarek
"You face annihilation. Is it not logical to do anything you can to save the lives of your kind?"
- - Philippa Georgiou
"We are at war. Logic dictates that each farewell may be our last. Do not regret loving someone, Michael."
- - Sarek's parting advice to Michael Burnham
"Specialist Burnham, I trust this will be an auspicious reunion, despite our history. Now take your station."
- - Philippa Georgiou, posing as her dead counterpart, and Michael Burnham
Story and script
- In this episode, the Star Trek: Discovery writing staff wanted to drive the show's characters to the limits of their morality in desperate times. "So, we knew thematically what we wanted to do," recalled Executive Producer Akiva Goldsman. "We understood that the burden here was to push Starfleet and the Federation to the edge of what we would find acceptable." ("Star Trek: Discovery: The Voyage of Season 1", DIS Season 1 DVD & Blu-ray special features)
- In the scene where Saru orders the Discovery's shields to be raised but Admiral Cornwell then beams onto the ship's bridge with a boarding party, the idea was to imply that Cornwell, thanks to being an admiral, was able to override the Discovery's shields. 
- Stamets actor Anthony Rapp highly approved of the scene in which his character and Tyler have a short discussion regarding Culber's death. Rapp described this scene as "a cool moment" and went on to say, "When I read it in the script, I was really […] very satisfied [….] It's a complicated thing in so many ways, […] so I feel like they were able to encapsulate in this very small scene all of that stuff in a very compact little piece. I was really appreciative of it." (AT: "Vaulting Ambition")
- Despite being credited, Jason Isaacs (Gabriel Lorca) does not appear in this episode.
- Creating the sequence in which Delta 2 is terraformed was a three-month process that started with storyboards that Director David Solomon illustrated. There was also initial concept art that was created and submitted by the art department. (AT: "The War Without, The War Within")
- David Solomon felt it was important to depict the prime-universe characters in a way that made them seem unpredictable, simply based on the amount of time they had been at war. (AT: "The War Without, The War Within")
- Once the concept art for the terraforming sequence was transferred over to the visual effects department, Visual Effects Supervisor Jason Zimmerman worked on it. He produced numerous iterations of the sequence while he was finessing it. (AT: "The War Without, The War Within")
Music and sound
- When Composer Jeff Russo first began writing music for Star Trek: Discovery, what would happen in this episode was one aspect he didn't yet know, because the installment hadn't been scripted yet.  He recorded the episode's score in early 2018, after the first of that year. 
- 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. This composition, entitled "Initiating", can be heard when the Discovery launches the pods containing mycelium and while, subsequently, the spores grow.
- This episode begins with comm chatter and a camera pull-back from a close-up of a starship's hull. The film Star Trek begins much in the same way. Whereas the ship in the opening shot of this episode is the USS Discovery having recently arrived from the mirror universe, the vessel in that instance is the USS Kelvin and the scene marks the start of the alternate reality with the imminent arrival of the starship Narada.
- It is revealed that the ISS Discovery was destroyed by Klingons after crossing into the prime universe, trading places with its counterpart. Starfleet had found the debris and presumed it was the USS Discovery.
- Admiral Cornwell orders all information on the Discovery's visit to the mirror universe to be classified and destroyed. This could explain how the mirror Jonathan Archer could find no information on the Terran Empire in the USS Defiant's 2268 database (nor did Starfleet warn the Defiant about its known fate), meaning the Halkan incident was also classified by Starfleet, though at some point it was declassified, as Bashir tells Kira, in DS9: "Crossover", that he read about Kirk's crossover at Starfleet Academy.
- Starbase 1 is revealed to be one hundred astronomical units from Earth (which would put it in the outer reaches of the Sol system). A Starbase 1 was previously seen in Earth orbit in the alternate reality, in the aforementioned film Star Trek and its sequel Star Trek Into Darkness.
- In this episode, Sarek and Cornwell comment that the resemblance between Mirror Georgiou and her prime-universe counterpart is "remarkable." Whereas a flashback in the teaser of "Battle at the Binary Stars" established that Sarek and Captain Georgiou met each other, it was never established that Georgiou and Admiral Cornwell had met each other.
- Starbase 1 is established as now being under Klingon control. At least three starships were lost and several senior Starfleet officers were killed when they took the starbase. The destruction of the base is similar to that of Yosemite 3, another installation in "Earth's backyard", which is destroyed by Dolim's Xindi-Reptilian warship in ENT: "Zero Hour".
- The conversation between Starfleet Admiral Cornwell and the Klingon L'Rell in the Discovery's Starfleet brig mirrors how those two characters originally encountered each other in a Klingon brig in "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum". Both their interaction in that episode and in this one results in L'Rell helping Cornwell.
- Burnham states that, in the mirror universe, the Terran Empire controls more territory than the Federation and has explored further than they have dared.
- The Klingon homeworld, Qo'noS, is revealed to feature a series of caves, some even large enough to hold a Crossfield-class starship like the USS Discovery. In the mirror universe, Qo'noS is a blackened ruin.
- In this episode, Burnham reminds Tyler he once told her that, if it got too much for him, he would come to her. This alludes to a conversation the couple have in Discovery's mess hall in "Despite Yourself". In that scene, Tyler/Voq promises to Burnham that, if he finds he can't handle his own PTSD that he believes was caused by his torture at the hands of the Klingons, he will tell her. In this episode, the couple also reference when Tyler/Voq attacked Burnham, which he does in "The Wolf Inside". Moments later in this installment, Tyler tells Burnham for the second time that it was his love for her that prevented L'Rell's prayer from being effective on Tyler/Voq. The prayer was attempted and proved unsuccessful in "Despite Yourself", and Tyler/Voq previously told Burnham the reason why in "The Wolf Inside".
- Admiral Cornwell, in her speech to the Discovery's crew, tells them their visit will be the first to Qo'noS since Captain Jonathan Archer and the Enterprise crew went there "nearly one hundred years ago." Enterprise is known to have visited the planet only in the Star Trek: Enterprise pilot episode "Broken Bow", but since that visit took place more than a century earlier, it appears this is not the visit she is referring to. Also, the reference to "the Enterprise (NX-01)" is different from how that starship is commonly referred to in the Enterprise TV series, as most references to the ship usually omit the word "the".
- The idea of the USS Discovery visiting Qo'noS is foreshadowed earlier in DIS Season 1, when Lorca mentions that, with its spore drive, the ship will be able to travel "behind enemy lines, above the Klingon homeworld."
- The Federation Council allows the mirror Emperor Philippa Georgiou to assume the identity of her prime universe counterpart to lead a strike against the Klingon homeworld to end the war.
- After Trek host Matt Mira pointed out that Tyler sitting alone in Discovery's mess hall is similar to when, shortly after Burnham first comes on board the ship in "Context Is for Kings", she also sits by herself in that room. (AT: "The War Without, The War Within")
- AT: "The War Without, The War Within" discusses the making of, and events in, this episode. Although After Trek host Matt Mira had previously asked Co-Executive Producer and writer Ted Sullivan about what had happened to the ISS Discovery in the prime universe, Sullivan had declined to give away the answer, citing it as a spoiler. (AT: "The Wolf Inside") The week prior to this episode's release, After Trek debuted a clip from the teaser scene where a Starfleet boarding party, led by Cornwell and Sarek, beam onto the USS Discovery's bridge and Sarek approaches Saru, about to mind meld with him. (AT: "What's Past Is Prologue")
- Executive Producer Aaron Harberts opined about this installment, "It's a very dark episode in the season [thematically]." ("Star Trek: Discovery: The Voyage of Season 1", DIS Season 1 DVD & Blu-ray special features)
- Director and Co-Executive Producer Olatunde Osunsanmi was highly impressed by how David Solomon directed this installment, commenting, "I think [he] did a terrific job with this episode." Osunsanmi also found it "interesting" when Emperor Georgiou firstly questions Burnham about Sarek and then later manipulates him into arranging to have her freed. "So, I love that, you know, Michelle [Yeoh] seems like she's playing the long game, kind of like Lorca was," Osunsanmi enthused. He liked, too, the last scene of this episode between Sarek and Burnham, about which he remarked, "It is an awesome farewell, you know, and very heartfelt, and, you know, those two actors just killed it." (AT: "The War Without, The War Within")
- Matt Mira thoroughly approved of the corridor scene in which Sarek and Burnham discuss love. "This is a beautiful scene," he commented. "This scene was just terrific. You know, 'cause you're talking to Sarek, who has, in his time, loved a Human female." Mira also enjoyed the breakup scene between Burnham and Tyler, about which he stated, "I loved when Michael is saying, 'Listen, what you're feeling right now, I have felt. Maybe not totally, but there was a moment where I was alone and had nothing, and I had to suffer through that. You're gonna have to suffer through that [too]." (AT: "The War Without, The War Within")
- 13 December 2017: Title publicly revealed 
- 4 February 2018: Premiere airdate on CBS All Access
- 5 February 2018: International release date (outside Canada and the USA)
Video and DVD releases
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
Special guest star
- Michael Ayres as Transport Officer
- Emily Coutts as Keyla Detmer
- Raven Dauda as Dr. Pollard
- Riley Gilchrist as Rear Admiral Shukar
- Julianne Grossman as Discovery Computer
- Harry Judge as Admiral Gorch
- Patrick Kwok-Choon as Rhys
- Sara Mitich as Airiam
- Melanie Nicholls-King as Rear Admiral Drake
- Oyin Oladejo as Joann Owosekun
- Ronnie Rowe Jr. as Bryce
ability; agri-transport vessel; Archer, Jonathan; atmosphere; au; Battle of the Binary Stars; cancer; cave; children; choH'a'; civilian; command deck; class 4 moon; cloaking device; day; Delta 2; Discovery, ISS; EM dart; enemy; Enterprise NX-01; front line; geostationary orbit; House of D'Ghor; House of Mo'Kai; hypothermic charge; Iridin; Kelfour VI; Klingon raider; Lorca, Gabriel; Lorca, Gabriel; mirror universe; mitochondria; month; mycelial bloom; mycelial ejection protocol; mycelial network; mycelial transport vessel; Nivalla; orphan; peace; Qo'noS; research outpost; Saratoga, USS; Septra; spacedock; species reassignment protocol; spore harvest; Starbase 1; Starbase 12; Starbase 19; Starbase 22; Starfleet; suicide mission; Terran Empire; terraforming; Veda system; volcano
Star chart references
11 Leonis Minoris; 59 Eridani; Acamar; Adelphous; Ajilon; Aldebaran; Alpha Monocerotis; Alpha Onias; Alpha Quadrant; Amar; Andoria; Archanis; Archanis sector; Archer; Ardana; Azure Nebula; B'Moth; Ba'ku; Balduk; Barolia; Beta XII-A; Beta Lankal; Beta Leonis Minoris; Beta Quadrant; Beta Pictoris; Beta Rigel; Beta Thoridar; Brestant; Briar Patch; Carraya; Castor; Chi Leonis; Coridan; D'deridex; Deep Space K-7; Delta Outpost; Delta Outpost 3; Delta Outpost 4; Delta Outpost 5; Delta Outpost 6; Delta Outpost 7; Delta Outpost 8; Delta Outpost 9; Delta Outpost 10; Delta Outpost 11; Deneva; Dewa; Dinasia; Draken; Earth; Elas; Elora; Epsilon IV; Epsilon Hydrae; Epsilon Outpost; Epsilon Outpost 1; Epsilon Outpost 2; Epsilon Outpost 3; Epsilon Outpost 4; Epsilon Outpost 5; Epsilon Outpost 6; Epsilon Outpost 7; Epsilon Outpost 8; Epsilon Outpost 9; Epsilon Outpost 10; Epsilon Outpost 11; Galorndon Core; Gamma 400 star system; Gamma Eridon; Gamma Hromi; Ganalda; Gariman sector; Gasko; Gorath; H'atoria; Halee; Hromi Cluster; Hyralan; Iconia; Iconians; Iccobar; Ikalia; Japori; Jouret; K't'inga; Khitomer; Klach D'kel Brakt; Krios; Korvat; Lambda Geminorum; Mempa; Mempa sector; Miridian; Morska; Narendra; Nequencia; New Providence; No'Mat; Omega Leonis; Organia; Orion; Paulson Nebula; Pheben; Pollux; Praxis; Qo'noS; Qo'noS sector; Qu'Vat; Ramatis; Regulus; Risa; Rura Penthe; Sherman's Planet; Sol; Son'a; Starbase 23; Starbase 24, Starbase 234; Starbase 343; Tarlac; Tananda Bay; Tellun; Tomed; Tranome Sar; Troyius; Ty'Gokor; Unroth; Valt; Vulcan; Xarantine; Yridia
Qo'noS globe locations
B'ror Tulvac; B'thel Krang Cha; Ba'Har Tor; Bar' Dak; Bar'or Lhess; Br' bethtik; Caves of Kahless; Caves of No'Mat; Central Plains Area; First City; H'Vek Tar; Hamar Mountains; Ha'r Kling Jaa; Har'Doth; Hess Kl'gar; Kalax; Kang's Summit; Ketha Province; Khell Tas So; Kl'alath; K'tang mar; K'ull Tan Saq; L'chorta; L'Har Mo'Tuk; L'Raal; L'vln Lak Raal; Lake of Lusor; Lhess Taal Dax; Lyn'Knor Tak; Mekro'vak region; Moog Kal Chack; Mor'em Cha; Pen'la Took; Qo'noS Pop Center; Qo'har dess; Qo'nVas Tem; Ren Sim'dhal; Skral River; T'chuu Nak; T'Val K'rang; T'Voq Har; Tar' Kl'val; V'char Tem; V'hechess; Vi'chak; Vort Kling Tuuk
Delta 2 locations
- "The War Without, The War Within" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "The War Without, The War Within" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Discovering the Penultimate Episode" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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