STAR TREK DISCOVERY continued its push to the end of its second season with serious nods to Trek shows that have come before. Laying some groundwork for the fan theory that DISCO’s “Control” is the progenitor of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION’s Borg species, “Through the Valley of Shadows” featured a corpse reanimated by nanites. And for all of the die-hard STAR TREK fans out there, DISCO viewers witnessed the inevitable mutilation and paralysis of Captain Pike — beeping wheelchair and all.
Another signal from what appears to be the “Red Angel” prompts Discovery to visit the Klingon planet of Boreth. Boreth, in addition to being home to a large contingent of Kahless-worshipping monks, is apparently home to a time crystal mine. And, oh yeah, Tyler and L’Rell abandoned their son there.
STAR TREK DISCOVERY S02E12: “Through the Valley of Shadows” – “Eat your Time-Vegetables.”
Babies grow fast, but Voq/Tyler and L’Rell’s son, who named himself Tenavik — son of none — grew real fast. Although Tyler left the little runt on Boreth only weeks ago, he has matured into a robust adult Klingon.
Tenavik tells Captain Pike, who beams down to Boreth on his own, that time flows differently on Boreth and that this is the reason for his rapid aging. After some discussion, Pike convinces Tenavik to show him the time crystal mine. The intrepid captain believes that the time crystal will help him and the crew of the Discovery make some sense of the Red Angel signals. As Pike soon learns, though, getting the crystal won’t come easy.
STAR TREK DISCOVERY S02E12: “Through the Valley of Shadows” – Too Many Time Travelers
In a show of emotional defiance that’s become typical of the crew of the Discovery, Burnham openly questions Pike’s orders to investigate the newest signal that appears to have originated from the Red Angel. Because we watched Dr. Burnham, Michael’s biological mother, disappear into a time vortex independent of the Red Angel suit, Spock posits that the signal is from another time traveler.
Michael’s sick of chasing the signals. She wants to investigate why a Section 31 ship reported in late, convinced that Control is somehow involved. Pike refuses, saying that the Sphere data Discovery picked up back in “An Obol for Charon” must be kept from Control at all costs.
Burnham, former mutineer that she is though, performs a chain-of-command end run around Pike. Waiting until Captain Pike has been beamed down to Boreth, Burnham asks Saru for a shuttle so that she and Spock can investigate the Section 31 ship.
Saru reminds mentally lazy viewers that since experiencing the Vaharai he is a far bolder Kelpien. He authorizes Burnham’s away mission. After all, Saru’s the acting captain while Captain Pike is away.
STAR TREK DISCOVERY S02E12: “Through the Valley of Shadows” – “Oh BLEEP.”
I know other viewers found Captain Pike’s canonical callback out of place but this is the kind of Trek stuff I revel in. Forced to learn his own devastating future, that he’ll be horribly and pointlessly mutilated during a cadet training exercise during the autumn years of his career, Captain Pike must decide whether to seal his fate by taking the time crystal or to leave the crystal where it is, which would presumably help him avoid his foretold mutilation.
Pike’s vision, which features the first onscreen depiction of the incident that causes his mutilation and paralysis, also features the captain’s future means of both locomotion and communication, Pike’s much-debated beeping wheelchair. It has, of course, been sexed up DISCO-style.
Faced with a pretty grim vision of the future, especially for a man of constant action like Chris Pike, the intrepid captain takes the news pretty well. An immediate breakdown after seeing his own face melt is followed by a stoic acceptance of what will come. Pike busts that time crystal off and drops the proverbial mike.
STAR TREK DISCOVERY S02E12: “Through the Valley of Shadows” – Nanite Shootin’
Burnham and Spock arrive to find the crew of the Section 31 ship dead with the exception of one person who has apparently survived thanks to his EV suit. Suspiciously, the survivor turns out to be Kamran Gant, a man who served with Burnham aboard the USS Shenzhou.
The three return to the Section 31 ship to investigate what happened, but — surprise surprise — Gant turns out to be a nanite-infested corpse controlled by…uh…Control. Gant’s reanimated corpse shrugs off Spock’s neck pinch and tosses him into a nearby bulkhead. Burnham fires her phaser several times, eventually blowing a hole in Gant’s chest.
Burnham’s bad day gets worse when trillions of nanites spill out of Gant’s chest cavity onto the floor, making their way toward her in a wave. She unloads her phaser on the tiny robots, but they threaten to overwhelm her. Then, in the nick of time, Spock magnetizes the ship’s floor, deactivating the nanites.
STAR TREK DISCOVERY S02E12: “Through the Valley of Shadows” – “Welp, that’s not good.”
Spock, Burnham, and Pike exchange briefings, but before anyone is able to formulate a plan on how to proceed or in what way they can make use of the time crystal, the entire Section 31 fleet surrounds Discovery. Believing Control is making its inevitable offensive to claim the Sphere data, Pike orders the crew to abandon ship and initiates the ship’s self-destruct sequence. Man, this is going to make season three interesting…
STAR TREK DISCOVERY S02E12: “Through the Valley of Shadows” – Final Thoughts
With only two episodes left in season 2, it’s not surprising that things are ratcheting up and that ridiculous cliffhangers like the one at the end of “Through the Valley of Shadows” are becoming commonplace. Burnham seems to be on the verge of some kind of hero breakdown after the confusing disappearance of her mother — wasn’t the suit being manipulated by Control to continually travel 950 years into the future? Free of the suit, shouldn’t Dr. Burnham have just stayed where she was?
Either way, Burnham seems to be sick of taking orders from the illustrious Captain Pike. But based on the preview for part one of DISCO’s two-part season finale, “Such Sweet Sorrow,” that may not matter. The canon appears to be catching up to Pike and Spock who seem to be making their return to the USS Enterprise in next week’s episode. I doubt, though, that their return will be due to Discovery’s self-destruction.