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Recap / Star Trek: Discovery S2E12 "Through the Valley of Shadows"

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A new signal appears above Boreth, leading to a new source of time crystals. Meanwhile, Burnham and Spock investigate a Section 31 ship when it starts behaving mysteriously.

Tropes in this episode:

  • 1-Dimensional Thinking: When attacked by the Control nanoprobes, Burnham subscribes to the Prometheus School of Running Away From Things, backing up to a wall and staying there to fire even after her guns stop working. Under the circumstances, it's believable that adrenaline would hand her the Idiot Ball, but what we see of the set also looks open enough that she could have escaped, lending credence to either interpretation.
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  • Abandon Ship: The Discovery crew start getting set to do this in order to try to keep the Sphere data out of the hands of Control.
  • Batman Gambit: Control intentionally chose Gant's ship to act suspiciously, calculating that Burnham would investigate and that using Gant's body would allow it to get close enough to take her over. It only fails because Spock unpredictably decided to tag along.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Jett Reno (Tig Notaro) shows up after a six-episode absence, with no explanation of where she was in the meantime.
  • Continuity Nod: We finally see the incident that puts Pike in that wheelchair.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Control takes over Lt. Gant's corpse, knowing that Burnham would trust him as they used to be shipmates on the Shenzhou.
  • Dramatic Irony: While Pike gets to witness his horribly wounded future self, he doesn't yet know that he will eventually get to live out his days with Vina on Talos IV, as seen in the ending of "The Menagerie".
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  • Dreadlock Warrior: Tenavik wears his hair in lengthy dreadlocks.
  • Facial Horror: In Pike's vision, we see the horrific burns that he suffered from the training accident. In the next scene, when Pike sees his future self, his future self's face begins melting to further horrify him.
  • Foreseeing My Death: In this case, the time crystal allows Pike to foresee his Fate Worse than Death.
  • Future Me Scares Me: Played with; Pike isn't horrified by his future personality, but rather his painful fate.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Pike is warned that this may happen to him if he sees his own future. While he is rightly horrified, he regains his composure and accepts his fate if it means that a worse one may be averted.
  • Godzilla Threshold: When it becomes clear that Section 31 has been compromised by Control and will stop at nothing to capture Discovery, Pike approves Burnham's plan to activate the Auto-Destruct sequence.
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  • Grey Goo: After Burnham blasts a hole through Gant's chest, the nanobots in his body emerge from the hole and lunge at her.
  • Guns Akimbo: Burnham dual-wields phasers against the nanotech swarm as it chases after her, attempting to vaporize it. It doesn't work, as the phasers can't do enough damage, but Spock stops the swarm by magnetizing the floor.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Pike willingly takes the time crystal, even though he has seen his future and will not be able to change it if he does.
    Pike: No. I'm not going to abandon the things that made me what I am because of a future... that contains an ending I hadn't foreseen for myself. No. Give it to me.
  • Internal Reveal: Tyler tells Burnham about his son and why he's being raised on Boreth.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Reno is an engineer, not a poet.
  • Lured into a Trap: Control had the Section 31 ship act unnatural on purpose, having calculated that Burnham would investigate. When she shows up, Control tries to infect her as a means to get to the Sphere data.
  • The Needs of the Many: Pike takes the time crystal despite knowing what will happen to him if he does, because the fate of the entire galaxy is in question if he doesn't.
  • No MacGuffin, No Winner: Outgunned by the Section 31 fleet, and with nowhere to go that the vessels couldn't follow, Burnham suggests scuttling Discovery to destroy the Sphere data. Pike reluctantly agrees and starts prepping evacuation procedures.
  • No-Sell:
    • Spock tries a Vulcan nerve pinch on Gant, but Control's nanotechnology has rendered him immune to the attack.
      Control (as Gant): If only I still had nerves ...
    • Control's nanoprobes also resist vaporization by hand phasers. The show doesn't have time to explain if they are immune or there are just too many of them to shoot, but either way the effect is the same.
  • Patchwork Map: Boreth appears to be a volcanic planet, but there's also lots of snow falling from above.
  • Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Thanks to his proximity to the time crystals, Tenavik is now as old as his parents.
  • Rapid Aging: The time crystals cause space-time to behave strangely. Tenavik has aged from an infant to an adult in just a few months, and a sapling planted on the grounds grows to maturity in seconds.
  • Survival Mantra: To calm himself after seeing his future, Pike clutches his badge and reminds himself of what it stands for.
    Pike: You're a Starfleet captain. You believe in service, sacrifice, compassion; in love.
  • Switch to English: Inverted— Tyler and L'Rell argue in English before switching to Klingon.
    L'Rell: If it were discovered that our child or you were still alive, the Klingon Empire would be vulnerable to sedition. I forbid you to go.
    Tyler: chora'meH DIb Daghajbe'. (I am not not yours to command.)
    L'Rell: ghaH Qan chut: not Qumlu'. (The rule is no contact, for his safety.)
    Tyler: chut choH jabbI'IDvam. (These signals change the rules.)
    L'Rell: meqqoqvetlh SIQlaHbe' puqloDma'. (That's an excuse our son can't afford.)
  • Tempting Fate: When Spock joins Burnham to investigate the Section 31 ship, she tells him "I don't need saving." He ends up saving her from Control.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Control flushed the crew of the Section 31 vessel into space when they detected the AI in their systems.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Burnham and Spock's shuttle drops out of warp, and a corpse bounces off the shuttle's window.
    • The reveal of future Pike in the wheelchair.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Because Pike had gone down to the planet with no guarantee that he'd be able to get a time crystal, he could have walked away with no one save the monks aware that he'd made that choice.
  • Zerg Rush: Denied the ability to infect Burnham, Control sics nearly the entire Section 31 fleet on Discovery to obtain the Sphere data by force.