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Star Trek: Discovery - Into The Forest I Go - Review: "Epic Midseason Finale"

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Star Trek Discovery 1.09 "Into the Forest I Go - Review:
Directed by Chris Byrne & Written by Bo Yeon Kim & Erika Lippoldt

The ninth episode of Star Trek: Discovery is unfortunately the last of the show we're going to get until next year due to its midseason break, but the show sure found a way to go out on a high note, picking up from where we left off with the Discovery about to confront the Klingons Ship of the Dead, cloaked by an invisible forcefield, to protect the defenceless Pahvo. Discovery itself is all alone, and has been ordered back to Starfleet to abandon the planet as it won't receive aid. Lorca is then faced with a choice, does he disregard a direct order from Starfleet to save the planet and potentially end the war?

It's Lorca, so of course he does, and he decides to rather than use the Spore drive technology to arrive back at the Starfleet base instantaneously, puts them in warp so the Discovery has a short amount of time to find out how to defeat the Ship of the Dead and the cloaking technology. The agency presented here really does give added stakes to Into the Forest I Go, which is a good thing. We get to see plenty of Lorca's schemes in action here again as he dodges orders, and manipulates Stamets into making the 133 jumps needed. In a negotiation with the Vulcan Admiral he is able to use Pahvo as a an excuse, but we know that he doesn't care much about the planet, he's looking for an excuse to win. I love the way Isaacs brought his character to the forefront here and is using his manipulative techniques to win the day. That speech where he talked about ending the war was something you can tell he's worked on, and he's ready to pull out all the stops to get what he wants. It was also interesting to note that he didn't actually want Michael leading the mission to the Ship of the Dead at all, because in doing so would not only endanger her it would also mean that if the mission was complete, it would mean that Michael would end up back in prison for being Starfleet's first mutineer once the war was over, and losing a valuable asset from the Discovery would hurt them. However, Michael is the only one present who has actually been on board the Ship of the Dead, and lends valuable experience to their mission that Lorca cannot deny.

So their plan is simple, infiltrate the Ship of the Dead and establish a link with the Discovery. It's a classic Star Trek infiltration style technique that works for the most part, and Ash and Michael are able to sneak on board. However it turns out that it was a bad idea bringing Ash along as whilst creating the links, they spot a human lifesign on board and head to investigate to find Admiral Cornwell, captured and unable to lose her legs, but alive. Cornwell just so happens to have been thrown into the same cell as L'Rell, who was Ash's tormentor whilst he was a prisoner of war. I was admittedly expecting them to reveal that Ash was actually Voq there and then with the flashbacks that Ash was experiencing to L'Rell's torture (Side note: Is this the first time we've seen Klingon nudity on screen in the history of the franchise? Not quite sure that was something I particularly wanted to see, but we've had it regardless), which could have possibly been the transformation into a human that Voq was experiencing. However, they didn't, but they did end up dropping the most blatant hint so far, with L'Rell's exchange with Ash hinting that more is to come between the two at the end of the episode. It's also good to see that they haven't dropped Ash's PTSD completely, and hopefully this will be a slow and gradual process - that is assuming of course, he doesn't turn out to be Voq in disguise.

Either way, whilst Ash is put out of action with his flashbacks to his time being tortured by L'Rell, Michael is able to sneak through to the bridge and complete her mission, allowing Discovery to perform the 133 jumps that it needs that allow the ship to work out how to disable the cloaking technology, which it is able to do whilst Michael ends up picking a fight with Kol, who has Georgiou's battle-worn Starfleet badge. Michael is able to goad Kol into a fight by taunting him about killing T'Kuvma, and Kol responds in turn by taunting her about Georgiou's death. They end up coming to blows and despite Michael eventually managing to wound Kol, it played out like a fairly one-sided battle. But before the fight can claim a casualty, Discovery is able to beam Michael, Cornwell and Ash back home allowing them to destroy the Ship of the Dead, taking care of Kol in the process. L'Rell is able to escape too where she is held prisoner, at least for now, but by taking Kol out of the game, they've put a dampener on the Klingon War. Without its leader the Klingons will no doubt struggle, unless of course, Voq is still out there waiting to make a power move. Until there is some sort of confirmation about Voq (which there hasn't been so far), I'm going to keep bringing him up, because Discovery has gone through its Klingon villains so quickly now it seems hard to believe that he won't show up in some form, as Ash Tyler in disguise or not.

With the Ship of the Dead destroyed, the Discovery finally agrees to head back to Starbase 46 (New Starbase alert!) like it should have done in the first place if Lorca had been following the Admiral's orders. But rather than punish him for disobeying command at least for the moment, Starfleet are going to reward Lorca with a medal for his services. Lorca tells Stamets that he's not going to accept the offer and give the medal to him as he was the one that pulled off the jumps, with the intention of using this to manipulate Stamets into continuing his jumps with him as they have discovered paths to potential alternate universes, and infinite possibilities. Stamets, despite being keen before the 133 jumps, has now decided that he will make one last jump to get his team home safe and after that he's done for good. You almost instantly get the feeling that something is going to go wrong with this one last jump before it even happens, and as a result, it doesn't end up being surprising when it does.

They're now stranded in a completely unknown section of space. Stamets is in trouble, and they probably don't have an immediate route back home. It's something that sets up the second half of the season well and looks set to move the focus away from the Klingon War plot for the time being at least, and take the show into new surroundings. They've already said that they're going to be doing the Mirrorverse at some point this season. Could this be the Mirrorverse? Are we about to see alternate versions of our characters that explore different variations of the 'What if?' concept? Could we see the return of Georgiou? There's so much potential to explore here with what ifs I'll almost end up being disappointed if this isn't revealed to be the Mirrorverse.

I love how the show is handling everything so far. It's proven itself to be incredibly effective at what it does and I hope that Star Trek fans who tuned out after the first episode come back to give it a shot. It's more nuanced and more powerful, and has taken time to develop its characters who first seemed too standoff-ish at times in the pilot. Everything here was super thrilling and really engaging to watch, the high stakes nature of the conflict really helping to add to its depth. Michael has grown and this episode was hugely important for Ash, too. Even Lorca and Stamets have become more developed and open, although Lorca is as manipulative as ever. And Tilly just continues to be pure gold, one of the more amusing moments of the episode dropped where she accidentally told Culber about the side-effects that the jumps have on Stamets, assuming that Culber already had been told in the process. I hope one of the episodes in the back half of the season that we get next year puts Tilly to the forefront, because if we can have a Saru-centric episode, why not a Tilly one too?

Either way, this is it until January by the looks of things. We've had a glimpse of a teaser into what lies in store for Star Trek next but beyond that, nothing much is known about the series. Either way I cannot wait to see it return because I've really enjoyed what I've seen so far and can't wait to see what the show does now that it should be moving away from the confines of the Klingon War, which has been arguably the series' weakest part.

What did you think of Star Trek: Discovery's midseason finale, Into The Forest I Go? Let me know in the comments below and stay tuned for the second half of Season 1 which returns in January on CBS All Access and Netflix outside of the US and Canada.

About the Author - Milo MJ
Milo is an Arsenal FC supporter and loves TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Justified, The Wire, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Person of Interest. He reviews Preacher, Star Wars Rebels, Star Trek Discovery, Silicon Valley and Veep for Spoiler TV and will be covering Castle Rock, Counterpart, Krypton, Marvel's New Warriors, Rise, Marvel's Runaways, Succession and Trust. He also contributes to comic reviews on a weekly basis for All-Comic. He also regularly watches and reviews films on Letterboxd, and you can find his ever-changing list of 300 favourite movies here.
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