‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 2 Episode 12: Recap, Reactions, and Ruminations – “Through the Valley of Shadows”

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Welcome to another week where we recap, react to and ruminate about Star Trek: Discovery. Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 12 hit a lot of the right spots as it prepared us for the final two episodes.

This post will mostly contain minor spoilers. So, don’t read ahead until you have watched Episode 12.

As with previous posts in this Star Trek: Discovery series, there won’t be a lengthy recap, but instead of we will focus on the basic of what we learn. Once again, I’ll be pulling reactions and ruminations from my Star Trek community.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 12: “Through the Valley of Shadows” Recap

In Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 12 – “Through the Valley of Shadows,” another signal has appeared. This time, above the Klingon monastery on the planet Boreth. We soon come to learn that time crystals are also on that planet. In short order, Pike needs L’Rell to secure him passage to the monastery.

The Discovery has also been monitoring Section 31 activities in the crew’s mission to figure out Control’s next move and figure out how to erase all the data they received from the sphere. It is during this time that they come to learn that a Section 31 ship had some unusual behavior. Burnham is in fight mode. She wants Pike to take the Discovery to meet up with that ship, but Pike denies the request.

With Pike preparing to leave on his own away mission to Boreth, Burnham takes the opportunity to Saru if she can take a shuttle to see what is going on with that Section 31 ship. He quickly agrees. As she is preparing to leave, Spock joins her. They fully reconcile.

Down on Boreth, Pike meets someone we haven’t seen since he was a baby. Pike is told he can get a time crystal, but it will come with a price. Pike doesn’t hesitate and is willing to risk everything to save all sentient life. During the quest, he is confronted with his future. He is given another choice: Don’t take the time crystal and have a future yet-to-be-determined or be stuck with that future in exchange for the crystal. Without hesitating, he sticks with the future that was presented to him.

Burnham and Spock catch up with the Section 31 ship. Everyone has been spaced. They find one life sign among all the dead and beam the person on-board. It turns out to be an old shipmate from the Shenzhou, Gant.

Burnham and Spock plot to catch Control in a mousetrap. Unknown to them, Gant has been assimilated by Control. Things get tense, to say the least. Control reveals who it is after. Spock saves Burnham in the nick of time and they get themselves out of there.

While this is all going on, we are taken to a moment in the mess. We learn that Reno lost her wife during the war. Reno talks some sense into Stamets about his relationship with Culber.

Finally, everyone is back on the Discovery. Pike is preparing to set the autodestruct sequence on the Disocvery.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 12: ” Through the Valley of Shadows ” Reactions

My Star Trek community is still moving to its new home, but we did manage to have a bit of a conversation this week:

Me: Okay. This episode was another good episode and if it ends up that Control isn’t the beginnings of the Borg, I think I’m going to be pretty angry because there are just too many similarities, especially when it comes to assimilation and identifying threats and neutralizing them.

I really enjoyed Spock and Burnham calling each other Brother/Sister as a sign that they have fully reconciled.

The way they incorporated “The Menagerie” was brilliant. With only a couple of episodes left, and after the choice Pike made (which of course we knew he was going to make) solidifies him as my favourite captain. I don’t think I need two more episodes to crown him such.

The ending though, do we really think they are going to blow up the damn ship? We know there is going to be a Season 3. Blowing it up solves some issues people have been having about why we don’t hear about the Discovery in TOS, but what ship will they be on for Season 3 of Discovery? I mean, the series is named after the ship, like all the various series.

I also have a lot to say this week moving through trauma and entering the fight response stage once one reaches a certain point of coming to terms with living with post traumatic stress. I don’t want to call it healing because that adds to stigma, but I can’t think of a better word right now.

G.H. Brothers: A few scattered thoughts in no particular order:

  1. 1000% agree regarding Captain Pike. I’ve been in mourning since the halfway point of the season after realizing the exact same thing, because we know we’re losing him at the end of the season.
  2. I’m still annoyed that it looks more and more like we’re doing a Borg origin story. Monsters are always so much more frightening when their details are left in the shadows of the imagination.
  3. The dedication to character arcs is extremely commendable, and I can think of no better example than that of Saru. Watching him very coolly and calmly approve Burnham’s mission without a second’s hesitation, in a conversation that only took maybe 2-3 minutes, speaks entire volumes about how far we’ve seen this character come. I got an acute sense of satisfaction from that.
  4. Burnham and Spock reconciling was a good moment, but it muddies the water even further about why he or his father never mentioned her. And I know, I know, I know, we’ve been promised that it’ll all make sense later, but it’s still strange to me.
  5. I pity the new generation of fans who are watching this as their first Trek and have absolutely NO clue what a big deal many elements of this season have been. Seeing the Talosians, the foreshadowing of Pike’s fate, etc. As a huge fan of TOS, and those characters probably being my favorites (with Spock firmly in the #1 spot), all the homage that’s been paid is lovely. Just like I loved seeing the old bridge in TNG’s “Relics,” or seeing my other favorite crew from DS9 go full 23rd century in “Trials and Tribble-ations.” It never gets old. Now I’m waiting for the Enterprise uniforms to become standard issue throughout the fleet, so I can see them every week!
  6. Mary Chieffo absolutely owns the character of L’Rell and is a delight to watch. Only Robert O’Reilly’s gleeful embrace of all Gowron’s insanity is in that class for me.
  7. I was THRILLED to finally see Reno again. She’s been woefully underused this season, but the scene she had with Culber almost made up for that entirely. Very touching, and superbly executed.

I think that’s pretty much it for now.

Me to G.H.: I can’t believe I forgot to mention Reno! I love how she used losing her partner (Canadian for any long-term relationship, including spouse, not just same-sex marriages and relationships) to get through to Stamets. I also liked how they so seamlessly introduced another queer character. It’s exactly how any cishet relationship would have been introduced.

Ani Hatzis: I haven’t noticed what I actually watched after the canteen at the first run, I had to rewind. How Stamets observes Culber had me daydreaming for a while. Hah, I know Stamets’ feeling in this situation so much. How painful it is to see how someone you love and who is out of reach can go on with his life, while you, petty puppy, are suffering. And then I’ve thought about the situations where I was in Culber’s role, and I felt even worse. To me, this scene had the biggest impact as far as it comes to this episode.

I’ve enjoyed the scenes with Reno, she is just such a great character. She had only a few appearances so far, but they all are on point. I can’t put my finger on, but she feels very familiar to me. Not sure if that’s just me, because maybe she remembers me of someone. The dialog of her with Culber was very authentic, touching, and funny. I guess revealing she was in a relationship with a woman will trigger the usual folks.

I just noticed that we have only two episodes left… and I feel that there is so much more I want to see from this crew. The seasons are so short. It’s a good thing that this episode spent a lot of time with the other characters, Captain Pike in particular. I got almost anxiety by listening to the sound of that machine. Do you agree that the shot of his injured face, together with this sound, could be the scariest thing ever shown on a Star Trek show? Is this feeling only because I grew fond of him (thanks to TOS and Discovery)? And that vision Pike sees, is that supposed to be the Discovery? If so, does it mean that we got a glimpse of a big show-down at the season finale? Maybe it is the battle against Control that seals his fate. And that of Discovery. But even if she is blowing up, they could just build a new ship with the same name, couldn’t they?

Although I think your theories regarding Control and the Borg make some sense, and could be explained somehow, time travel and such, still I doubt they are really connected. The Borg originated from the Delta Quadrant and they needed many centuries to reach the level when they finally crossed ways with Starfleet, didn’t they? Why would they assimilate ships and settlements as shown before, when they could just infiltrate their enemies so easily as Control can do. While the hive mind would still make sense, what’s up with the Borg queen? So, I don’t rule out that Control is predecessor to the Borg, but I don’t really think they are related.

Something rather irrelevant: This episode again shows the production quality everywhere. Just a small detail… when the shuttle of Michael and Spock leaves Discovery’s hangar. That’s a scene often shown in the previous Star Trek shows, but this looked so good and realistic. Also, the monastery, so beautifully done. In regard of production value, the difference between Discovery and all other shows is day and night. It seems to me that they spend a much larger budget on Discovery. Of course, there was quite some technological progress, but even when compared to modern shows, Discovery is really outstanding.

BTW, does anyone speak Klingon and knows the meaning of Tenavik? L’Rell said that it is a good name for their son, and I wonder what she means by that.

Me to Ani: Totally agree about those scenes with Culber and Stamets in the canteen. That sucked the air out of my chest. But after Reno gave that talk to Stamets, I hope he gets his head out of his arse.

As for the Borg, I just want to say one thing: Part of Control was in Airium before she was sent off into the depths of space. I’m not convinced she is actually dead, and I still maintain she will eventually become the Borg Queen. Also, we don’t really know that the Borg originate in the Delta Quadrant. That just becomes their eventual home-base quadrant, for lack of a better word.

I know some people will have issue if this turns out to be the Borg origin story, but as I said in a previous week, I’m thankful for it because it finally it’s canon and people can stop referencing novels and getting out of joint when people point out the novels are not canon

 Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 12: ” Through the Valley of Shadows” Ruminations

Another episode filled with a lot of heart and emotion. “Through the Valley of Shadows” exists to setup events of the final two episodes, while still following through on existing themes of “the needs of the many” and the many faces of post traumatic stress.

There was an interesting thing they did with Burnham and her anger. It’s very similar to something I went through last summer after having one of my childhood traumas ripped wide open and I was under threat again.

Most people are aware of “fight” or “flight”. But what doesn’t get talked about often and is the most common symptom of post traumatic stress when it comes to survival responses is “freeze.” Think about it like that scene from Jurassic Park where they have to freeze so that the T-Rex doesn’t eat them. It is a self-protection mechanism because if you freeze and make yourself unnoticeable, maybe the threat will not notice you. And if it does, maybe your lack of response will get the situation over with quicker.

Just freeze. Disassociate. Move on. Survive. You may feel helpless in the moment, but reaction isn’t about helplessness.

While we would never consider Burnham to be helpless, we have learned in this season that she often feels that way. The result, as we learned when Spock confronted her about it is, she takes on all burdens even when they have nothing to do with her. If she takes on those burdens, maybe the thing that is threatening her will just go away. Later in the season, we are taken back to the very first time she had to freeze in order to survive: The death of her parents.

Back to last summer and when my trauma was re-opened similar to Burnham’s trauma being re-opened when she lost her mother once again. All I wanted to do last summer and into the fall was fight. If anyone even came close to imposing on my boundaries, I was ready to explode and just take them on. Nobody was going to take from me anymore.

It was at that point that I had to step away from some of my duties as I took on extra trauma therapy appointments. I felt like something was not quite right with me because I was so angry all the time and was going to fight anyone who even breathed at me wrong. It’s not like in the TV shows where you see someone wake up from a nightmare and become violent.

What I learned was, once you reach a certain part in the journey moving through trauma, you go to fight. Getting to fight is a sign of progress. It means all the work one has done through cognitive therapy has finally re-wired the brain and the amygdala is all, “I’m not taking any of this crap, any more! I’LL FIGHT YOU AND WIN!” It’s healthy.

Burnham was there is this episode. It wasn’t about revenge as some on her crew thought. It was a step towards finding peace in the chaos that is post traumatic stress.

As an end note, my Star Trek community is in the process of moving with the upcoming shutdown of Google+. You can find us and join us at The United Federation of Planets. It’s free to join but there are paid options with extra features to help offset the costs of hosting and building the apps. The Android app is now available and so is the iOS app.

Until next Sunday, Live Long and Prosper!

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