It wouldn’t be Star Trek without a hardass Admiral who doesn’t understand the realities out on the front lines, and a captain who disobeys orders because dammit, he gets results!
Unfortunately, Lorca’s results are putting Lieutenant Stamets in danger. He’s been hiding the effects the spore drive has been having on him, and now Lorca’s plan to thwart the Klingons involves using the drive for 133 jumps in a row to try and map out their cloaking device, never mind the effects on Stamets’ psyche.
What follows is classic Trek — a risky plan that goes awry, a few scenery-chewing villains (translated into English, at long last!), a little scientific wonder, and some nice character moments across the ensemble before the action starts. The terrifically tense sequence in which Burnham and Tyler board the Klingon ship, Lorca engages in a firefight with the Klingon Ship of the Dead, and Stamets endures jump after jump while Dr. Culber fears for his life, is Discovery putting together all of the pieces it’s been assembling through it’s early episodes and the result is — to borrow a phrase from Tilly — fucking cool.
And that’s just the first half.
The remainder of the episode is a bit more of a mixed bag, with some nice acting from Shazad Latif leading into some clunky dialogue between Tyler and Burnham, and a legitimate “don’t go in there!” moment for one character that’s telegraphed a bit too heavily. But we also finally get a Stamets-Culber kiss, some grist (but nothing definitive) for a popular fan theory, and judicious application of one of Joss Whedon’s rules of screenwriting: if you can throw in a swordfight, why not?
And, of course, it wouldn’t be a half-series finale without one last twist. The preview invite us to find out “what happens when you boldly go… too far.” We’ll be back in January to cover the second half of what’s already shaping up to be one of Trek‘s best series. See you then.