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Still stranded in the mirror universe, Burnham must try to save the lives of a group of rebels whom she is ordered to destroy by the Terran Empire while maintaining her cover as her counterpart. Meanwhile, a growing terror within Lieutenant Tyler consumes him and threatens the chances of the Discovery returning home.

Summary

Teaser

The USS Discovery crew works hard to repair the ship. In sickbay, Paul Stamets is still dazed, but holding Hugh Culber's body. He talks incoherently about trees.

On the ISS Shenzhou, Michael Burnham is falling into an uncomfortable routine, noting she can't rest at all there. A Kelpien enters, apparently a slave to her, in order to give her a bath. Burnham quickly realizes and must go along to not arouse suspicion. She then goes to the transporter room to attend an execution via beam-out to space. She is almost getting used to the routine. With Ash Tyler, she feels sane again. He calls her his tether, relating an experience from his training. While together, the Kelpien walks in, prompting Tyler to leave under her disguised disgust. She briefly breaks her cold role by giving the Kelpien a name – Saru.

While alone, Sylvia Tilly calls Burnham and puts Saru on. Burnham can't analyze or send the large amount of data from her location, so she'll need to find another way. The call ends after Saru asks if there are Kelpiens on board, and Burnham lies in the negative to save the conversation.

On the Discovery, Tilly and Saru decide not to tell Burnham about Culber. They believe Stamets killed him in one of his confused outbursts. Tilly notes the brain activity that clearly isn't his, so it isn't a murder per se. Tilly comes up with a plan to fix it.

On the bridge, Burnham gets a call from Captain Maddox for a mission: destroy the Klingon stronghold on Harlak. Keyla Detmer starts to prepare the obvious order but Burnham stops her, saying she wants to wait and infiltrate the compound beforehand in order to get information to attack more rebel bases. The order startles the crew.

Act One

Gabriel Lorca is outside an agonizer booth consulting Burnham. He wants to follow through with the mission, but Burnham says she can't do it. She sees the alliance of all these disparate races, and there's hope in figuring out what brought them together. Lorca relents.

Stamets is in the spore chamber while Tilly figures out he has a neuronal link to the mirror universe. She starts to give him spores.

Tyler and Burnham head out for their mission. They're transported to the surface and are very alone for a bit but then fired upon. Burnham gives herself up and they're taken to their camouflaged encampment. There, they're surprised to find Voq, who proceeds to challenge her. She admits the Emperor knows their location and she was ordered to fire on them. She proposes letting everyone escape first. Voq is skeptical, and calls for a "prophet" to intervene – Sarek. He mind melds with her and confirms everything to Voq.

Act Two

Voq agrees to Burnham's deal and prepares to evacuate. Burnham asks them how they were able to overcome their disparate cultures, and Voq explains, mentioning Kahless and the common enemy they face. During, Tyler becomes very uncomfortable and is triggered to attack Voq. They fight, but Voq bests him. Voq challenges both of them, but Sarek emphasizes he still vouches for Burnham, not Tyler. They let him go, and provide some information for her so she can prove her mission was successful.

Tilly explains Stamet's condition to Saru, and sees neuronal patterns returning to normal. Saru is impressed, but soon Stamets starts breaking down. Saru calls for emergency help over Tilly's objections.

Act Three

Burnham confronts Tyler on the Shenzhou, noting the recent events of him having trouble, but he has no excuse. He takes a pause and then admits that he feels something for L'Rell, that he feels forced to listen when she speaks and, furthermore, suspects he isn't actually Ash Tyler. He says he saw himself (Voq) on the planet and it set him off. Surprisingly, he then speaks as Voq and admits to infiltrating the ship. Burnham counters and insists he's Tyler. Then he admits to killing Culber. He goads her at phaser-point with the fight when she killed T'Kuvma, giving a detail that Burnham never reported at the time. He takes her by the neck, but Saru appears behind him, throwing him across the room. Detmer is there, and proceeds to prepare him for transport into space.

Stamets lies in the chamber still. Tilly apologizes to him, despite that he can't hear her. Then, he twitches and her panel lights up. Stamets finds himself in a vast environment full of spores. Then, he sees himself.

Act Four

Burnham attends Tyler's spacing. Detmer triumphantly reads the crime. Burnham steps toward him, very close, and asks for his last words. She then pushes the operator aside and transports him herself. Then, she orders Lorca be brought to her.

In space, Tyler appears and starts to die, but then is soon beamed out – by the Discovery. Saru steps toward him and takes the data chip out of his uniform.

Lorca recommends to Burnham that they need to keep up appearances in case Saru can't decode the data. Then, Burnham finds out another ship is in orbit, firing on the rebel base. Burnham then discovers who it is – Emperor Philippa Georgiou.

Memorable quotes

"I can't rest here. Not really. My eyes open, but it's like waking from the worst nightmare I could imagine. Even the light is different. The cosmos has lost its brilliance, and everywhere I turn, there's fear."

- Michael Burnham, on the mirror universe


"Sometimes the end justifies terrible means."

- Gabriel Lorca


"My spies had told me you were dead. I must admit, we rejoiced at this news."
"The old Michael Burnham is dead. I'm the new Michael Burnham. The one who's betraying her kind. Risking her life to save you."
"The new Michael Burnham? Are you not the Butcher of the Binary Stars?!"
"There are two sides to every battle."
"With a single savage order, your executed thousands of my kind, establishing yourself as the figurehead of terror and cruelty! Do you deny those actions?"
"I cannot. But it is not who I want to be, not anymore."
"Then I am happy to relieve you of your existence!"

- Voq and Michael Burnham


"'Sarek, what do you see?"
"I see a world... bursting with potential and a child molded by wisdom and a seemingly impossible depth of Human compassion."

- Voq and Sarek, after Sarek mind melds with Michael Burnham


"Remain Klingon or die!"

- Ash Tyler in Klingonese, moments before attacking Voq


"Hello, Paul. Ready to get to work? I so hoped you would find your way."

- Paul Stamets, upon meeting his prime universe counterpart in the mycelial network


"You have anything to say for yourself?"
"(In Klingonese) Kahless, give me the light to see forever."

- Michael Burnham and Ash Tyler, moments before Tyler is beamed into space


"Don't you bow before your emperor?"

- Philippa Georgiou, to a visibly and emotionally stunned Michael Burnham

Log entries

Background information

Title

Story

  • The decision that the Terran Empire rebellion would consist of the Andorians, Tellarites, Vulcans and Klingons was made because, with the exception of the Klingons, those were three of the four founding members of the United Federation of Planets in the prime universe (the other species being Humans). As a result, it seemed to make sense that they represent, as Co-Executive Producer Ted Sullivan phrased it, "a union of hope in the mirror universe." The selection of these particular species was also inspired by the fact that Star Trek: Discovery's second episode, "Battle at the Binary Stars", had established that T'Kuvma had an opinion on all of them, which thus provided a further motive for the transformation that was about to take place on Harlak. "It allowed to really lean into […] Voq's reemergence through Tyler," explained Sullivan, "so it just […] made sense." (AT: "The Wolf Inside")
  • Originally, the behind-the-scenes staff were unsure how to include the Kelpiens of the mirror universe in this episode's narrative. "We actually even toyed with having Saru be down on the planet of Harlak," revealed Ted Sullivan. However, planning to shoot Harlak exteriors on location, they realized that, if Saru would indeed be on the planet, this would result in production issues involving massive requirements, with too many different alien species to represent using prosthetics that would need to be done on location. "We wanted to see Kelpiens in the mirror universe," stated Sullivan, "but for a Terran Empire that is so racist, how do you kind of work it in there?" The writing staff then had the idea of making the Kelpiens a slave race that served the Terran Empire. "We thought, 'Oh, well, that's an element,'" Sullivan recalled. (AT: "The Wolf Inside")
  • When Lisa Randolph wrote this episode, she was essentially on loan to Star Trek: Discovery from the Netflix TV series Jessica Jones. Remarking not only that the episode was written by a female writer but also that the installment "was produced by two women of color, Bo Yeon Kim and Erika Lippoldt," Ted Sullivan went on to say, "In the fifty-plus history of Star Trek, I'm pretty sure that's the first time that's happened." (AT: "The Wolf Inside")

Cast and characters

  • Of the episodes that Michelle Yeoh has participated in, this is the only one in which she is credited during the closing credits with the rest of the guest cast, as opposed to receiving a "special guest star" in the opening credits. This was done to conceal the dramatic reveal at the end of the episode that the mirror version of Philippa Georgiou is the Terran emperor. The use of the typically masculine "emperor", as opposed to the more usual "empress", preserved the effect within the episode's narrative.
  • L'Rell actress Mary Chieffo held high regard for the scene where the Klingon sleeper agent Tyler/Voq is saved by Starfleet's USS Discovery, an example of the latter's mercy towards the former baffling Klingon expectations. "I think that that's something interesting," she commented. (AT: "The Wolf Inside")
  • Saru actor Doug Jones humorously commented that, as the mirror Saru, he most enjoyed "giving Burnham a bath and doing up her pants." (AT: "The War Without, The War Within")

Pre-production

  • Under the aegis of Production Designer Tamara Deverell, a concept illustration was created to show the scene in which Burnham and Tyler are fired on by the rebels on Harlak, as was a concept drawing depicting the outside of the mirror Sarek's tent. ("Designing Discovery", DIS Season 1 DVD and Blu-ray special features) Other concept artwork was created to show the tent's interior, including a concept image of a Vulcan meditation corner for Sarek. (AT: "The Wolf Inside")
  • Set pieces inside Sarek's tent were designed to appear as though they had been scavenged from other worlds, to reflect that the alliance involved multiple species. Several pieces from other sets were repurposed for Sarek's camp, such as the antiproton chamber from "The Vulcan Hello". Flooring from the Sarcophagus and other leftover set pieces were aged and made to match the rebel aesthetic. The Vulcan meditation center that had been pictured in a concept image was additionally created as part of the set but was barely seen on camera. (AT: "The Wolf Inside")

Production

  • For the bathing scene, Doug Jones had to try to massage Sonequa Martin-Green's neck while he was wearing large rubber gloves to represent Saru's Kelpien hands. This led to some hilarity on the set. "Sonequa and Doug were just laughing their heads off [….] They just couldn't stop laughing," noted Ted Sullivan. (AT: "The Wolf Inside")
  • The exterior shots which include Harlak's surface were filmed at Lafarge Quarry, outside the city limits of Toronto. (AT: "The Wolf Inside")
  • Although most of Star Trek: Discovery's scenes that involve Voq were shot before those that feature Ash Tyler, this installment had to combine the two parts. Shazad Latif commented, "This episode was crazy, 'cause it was two long days, and we did the Mirror Voq stuff first, and then, you know, another wonderful actor, who was the stand-in, had to mirror all my movements, and then he had to do it the next day." (AT: "The Wolf Inside")
  • The producers spontaneously created the appearance of the salute to the Terran emperor during filming. They made it different from the regular Terran Empire salute so as to emphasize the emperor's authority. (AT: "The Wolf Inside")

Visual effects

  • Visual effects were used to accentuate the shots of Harlak's surface. For example, the exterior view of Mirror Sarek's camp combined a foreground that had been shot at the Lafarge Quarry location together with CGI buildings on the skyline, and the camp was also composited into the shot. (AT: "The Wolf Inside")

Music and sound

  • A few musical cues from this episode were released in the soundtrack collections Star Trek: Discovery - Season 1, Chapter 2 and Star Trek: Discovery - Season 1, Chapters 1 & 2. The first, entitled "I Can't Rest Here", accompanies Burnham's voiceover that expresses uneasiness with her current predicament as captain of the ISS Shenzhou in the mirror universe; the second, "Dishonor Yourselves", provides the soundtrack for the end of her and Tyler/Voq's visit to the rebels' tent; the third, "Tell Me the Truth", is audible during the scene in which they have an ultimately violent confrontation and discuss his transformation from Voq into Tyler; and the fourth piece of music, "The Rebels Haven't Completed Their Evacuation", is the final cue in the episode, serving as the soundtrack to both the bombardment of Harlak as well as the introduction of Emperor Georgiou.

Continuity

  • The trick of listing a guest star in the end credits rather than the opening credits, so as to conceal the actor's involvement in an episode, had been used before the making and release of this installment. One such example was in DS9: "Heart of Stone", which was to conceal the reveal that Kira Nerys is impersonated by the Female Changeling (Salome Jens) during most of the episode. Furthermore, Leonard Nimoy is similarly listed in the end credits of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, rather than the opening ones, in order not to prematurely reveal that he would be appearing as Spock in that film.
  • The use of the typically masculine title "emperor" rather than "empress", in reference to Philippa Georgiou, differs from Hoshi Sato claiming the title of "empress" in the final scene of ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II".
  • This episode reveals that Voq has been Ash Tyler since the latter was introduced. It was not until the next episode, "Vaulting Ambition", that it was revealed that there was a real Ash Tyler.
  • The mirror Sarek is shown as a leader in the current rebellion against the Terran Empire and working with Voq. In TOS: "Mirror, Mirror", Sarek's son Spock is shown to be loyal to the Terran Empire before he tries reforming the Empire to be more like the Federation after meeting the James T. Kirk who traded places with his captain.
  • Mirror Sarek wore a goatee, just like mirror Spock and mirror Soval did.
  • The Michael Burnham and Sarek of the mirror universe never had a father-daughter relationship.
  • General Order 4 of the Terran Empire relates that any race deemed a threat to the Empire is to be destroyed.
  • This episode sets a record for the longest teaser in Star Trek history, at a duration of fourteen minutes and six seconds.
  • This episode marks the first appearance of Andorians and Tellarites in Star Trek: Discovery.
  • After Trek host Matt Mira commented that this was the first mirror episode that featured a character having to "deal with their emotional relationships with their father, all of a sudden." (AT: "The Wolf Inside")
  • The mind meld sequence between Burnham and the mirror Sarek evidently includes a few examples of reused footage from previous episodes. These consist of: the prime Sarek mind melding with Burnham during her childhood, shortly after the bombing of the Vulcan Learning Center, from "Battle at the Binary Stars"; Burnham standing in a skill dome and looking up as Sarek towers over her, from "The Vulcan Hello"; Amanda advising Burnham to never forget that she's Human, from "Lethe"; and Burnham pleading guilty at her court martial, in "Battle at the Binary Stars".
  • Clips from earlier installments than this one were also evidently reused for Tyler/Voq's subsequent recollections of T'Kuvma. The first, featuring T'Kuvma verbally uniting his Klingon followers "under one creed," comes from "The Vulcan Hello"; the other clips in this sequence, involving him stating that the Federation wants to eradicate the Klingons' racial "purity" and that his House is bonded by the doctrine "remain Klingon," are from "Battle at the Binary Stars".

Reception

  • AT: "The Wolf Inside" discusses the making of, and events in, this episode. A week prior to the release of this installment, AT: "Despite Yourself" debuted a segment of the scene wherein Burnham receives a holographic message from Tilly and then holographically speaks with Saru too.
  • Executive Producer Gretchen J. Berg approved of this installment, commenting, "Episode eleven is such a testament to Shazad Latif's acting abilities and talent. Your heart is breaking for Tyler as he's coming to this realization that there is this other part of him that is so capable of violence, so capable of hurting Burnham, the person that he feels so tethered to and feels so connected to and loves so much. We watch him literally turn into another horrifying individual." Berg particularly appreciated the scene in which Burnham realizes that the person she has known as "Ash Tyler" is actually Voq. "That is a scene I can watch over and over again," stated Berg. "It is tough, but it is so well-executed and so well-played by the two of them." ("Star Trek: Discovery: The Voyage of Season 1", DIS Season 1 DVD & Blu-ray special features)
  • Ted Sullivan commented, "Sonequa's look at the end is just stunning." He also approved of how Mirror Sarek supports and defends Burnham following their mind meld. "That's what I love so much about Lisa Randolph's script, is that she took a very complex, emotional, totally bananas thing, which is the mirror universe, and found a way to kind of infuse it with some real emotion and compassion and allow Burnham to have that emotional win in that moment, which is great." Sullivan additionally remarked that the alien alliance was "pretty cool," stating, "It works from a cool standpoint, it works from a story standpoint, and it works from a thematic standpoint." Sullivan went on, "I think what's so great about what Lisa Randolph did in this script was you really start to feel a lot of the pieces [of the first season's story and character arcs] come together." Sullivan gave high praise to the scene in which Saru delivers a speech immediately after Tyler is beamed onto the Discovery, calling it a "great moment" and elaborating, "My favorite moment in the whole episode is Saru stepping forward and giving that really beautiful speech that Doug just knocks out of the park, that Lisa wrote an amazing kind of lines for [….] Like, what an interesting twist. And so, that to me is one of the most Star Trek-y scenes that we've had in the whole series." (AT: "The Wolf Inside")
  • Matt Mira concurred with Ted Sullivan in appreciating that scene and how this episode develops the character arc involving Burnham's relationship with Sarek, Mira remarking, "It's just wonderful," a comment that Sullivan, in turn, agreed with. Mira also said about the alien alliance, "It's awesome," which Sullivan agreed with too. (AT: "The Wolf Inside")

Production history

Links and references

Starring

And

Guest starring

And

Co-starring

Uncredited co-stars

Stunt doubles

Stand-ins

References

active camouflage; Andorian; brain; buggy; Charon, ISS; cognitive function; Command Training Program; Discovery, ISS; Defiant, USS; DSC 01; exajoule; Fire Wolf; forest; frontopolar cortex; Gorn; Harlak; Harlak ruins; heart rate; Imperial Intelligence; Kahless; Kahless (mirror); Kelpien; Klingon; listening station; meter; neuronal link; Master of Poisons; mirror universe; mycelial network; mycelium spore; photon torpedo; pip; rebel; Survived a Mortal Wound; tardigrade; Tellarite; Terran emperor; Terran General Order Four; Terran law; tree; Valor; Vulcan

External links


Previous episode:
"Despite Yourself"
Star Trek: Discovery
Season 1
Next episode:
"Vaulting Ambition"
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