Episode 14 - "The War Without, The War Within"
Reclaiming life — that is the task facing the crew of the Discovery upon their return from the Mirror Universe. When they first left their universe, they were carrying a tool that would have won them the war against the Klingons, but now that they have returned 9 months later they find the war has gone very badly during their absence. While there is a war raging on outside their ship, there are also smaller wars raging inside its walls.
The most visible conflict inside Discovery has to do with Ash Tyler now that he has (mostly) recovered from his Klingon influence. Ash had been fighting an internal battle between two sides of his personality, and now that the battle is over he has to deal with the consequences of his actions. He hurt many people and now has to come face to face with many of them. Their reactions to him vary significantly. Some, like Lt. Stamets, are less than welcoming. Others, like Saru, choose to see past Tyler’s actions and look at him optimistically. Cadet Tilly’s reaction — to walk over and sit by Tyler in the mess hall — is the most forgiving one he experiences. The rest of the crew in the mess hall follow Tilly’s example and welcome Tyler back into their fold. Their ability to look past his actions and see the better side of him is another indication of their newfound functionality as a family.
The person struggling with forgiving Tyler the most is Michael Burnham, to the point where she does not even want to see him. Michael’s closest friends all offer her advice on how to react to Tyler. Tilly reprimands Michael for not wanting to speak with Tyler, arguing that we are shaped by our environment (a lesson learned through their time interacting with their counterparts in the Terran Empire) and prompting Michael that Tyler’s environment could benefit from her presence. Tilly’s advice also serves as a summary of what the Discovery’s crew has learned this season: “The only way we can stop ourselves from becoming [like the Terrans] is to understand the darkness within us, and fight it.” She urges Michael to confront Tyler and help him navigate his own darkness so that he might find a way out.
While talking with Michael about Tyler, Sarek advises her, “Do not regret loving someone.” While she might not regret falling in love with Tyler, their relationship has changed; the violent trauma Tyler subjected Michael to has wounded her deeply. Others may be able to see past his actions, but Michael cannot get past the fact that the person she loved most had his hands around her neck, trying to kill her.
Sarek tells Michael that he sees her and Tyler’s relationship as both ironic and filled with the potential for grace. He asks her, “What greater source of peace exists than our ability to love our enemy?” If we really want to bring about peace, we have to start by seeing our enemies through eyes of love rather than hate and mistrust. We must be willing to offer them grace when no one else is, to sit at the dinner table and start a conversation with them, and to forgive them for whatever they may have done to wrong us. That is how we start down the path to peace.
Episode 15 - "Will You Take My Hand?"
The season one finale of Star Trek: Discovery was a satisfying conclusion to one of the greatest single seasons in all of Star Trek. It tied up all the major storylines and provided adequate resolutions to many of the characters’ development thus far. It would be hard for any fan of Star Trek to not be also excited about Season 2 after the final shot of this episode. It provided the perfect connection between this series and The Original Series.
This episode was an exploration of how peace can be achieved through doing the unthinkable — loving your enemy. This difficult concept is one which Christ introduced in his Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” The Federation has been at war with the Klingons for quite some time, but the path to peace is now being forged by people like Michael Burnham, whose experiences have helped her to see the Klingons as more than just her enemy.
Michael had been in love with Ash Tyler, who turned out to be a unique sort of Klingon sleeper agent (unbeknownst to him). This is all the more surprising because Michael’s parents had been killed by Klingons when she was a child. During their covert mission to the Klingon homeworld Qo’noS, Tyler asks Michael, “How could you not hate them?” Michael responds, “I look around here and I just, I see people living their lives….this is a home. And if we give the Federation targets to attack it won’t ever be the same.” Michael is able to see her enemy with compassion and sympathy, even if her enemy had never felt that way towards her. Michael had gotten to know the Klingon side of Tyler and thus understand her enemy in a way no one else in the Federation could have.
What if you knew for certain your enemy was as bad as you imagined them to be - heartless, ruthless, unsympathetic, with no possibility of redemption or remorse? If anyone could say this about her enemy, it would have been Michael. Yet she was still able to find a way past this hate by loving her enemy, first Tyler and then all Klingons. Tyler’s words to her sum up their relationship as well as the focus of the entire first season, “Michael, in spite of everything that happened to you, your capacity to love literally saved my life.” Rather than fear and hate her enemy, Michael learned how to love them, seeing them with eyes of compassion. She knew that they too were beings just living their lives, with hopes, dreams, and fears just like her. Once she came to that realization she found a path to peace, proving that love triumphs over hate.