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

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I really hate cliffhanger episodes and, although I understand the intention is for Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 12 to build anticipation for the last two episodes of the season, I still hate cliffhangers.


Pike's Decision - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 12

Other than the cliffhanger, this was a solid bit of adventuring with some truly brilliant twists on both the small and large scale narratives.

The tying in of the Klingon arc from Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 3 was cleverly done and earns some goodwill from me in that the whole L'Rell/baby thing wasn't just a convoluted way to throw Tyler into Section 31.

Related: Get CBS All Access via Prime Video Channels for Hit Shows, Exclusive Originals & Live TV!

I'm still super annoyed by the ongoing (and improbable) romance between Burnham and Tyler. Having L'Rell restate the persistent nature of Tyler's feelings was wasted on me as well.

You of all people should understand that two truths are possible.


Still hoping (as I hoped as we neared the end of Star Trek: Discovery Season 1) that Tyler will go out in a blaze of self-sacrificial glory.

Alive, he just doesn't serve any real purpose. He's angsty and conflicted and distracting. None of that is useful and he spends a lot of time being all those things.

Alternatively, although she doesn't a lot of screen-time (and it feels like the make-up department is having issues with consistency), L'Rell rocks her roles as Chancellor and Mother of the Empire with authority.

L'Rell Vertical - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 12

Founding her public image on the fictional deaths of her son and human-esque consort was risky and could still backfire.

However, her leadership echoes the styling of England's Elizabeth I who created the Virgin Queen veneer to assure her country that a woman could rule dispassionately and effectively, setting aside family and needing no male guidance.

It was actually really thoughtful to her character for the writers to create some closure for her regarding the child she had to give up.

Mother L'Rell - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 12

Chief Jett Reno's been my favorite addition to the crew, hands down. I live for her scenes and love every scrap of information she divulges about herself.

She's tough, effective, and about as funny as anyone on this crew ever is.

She also doesn't hesitate to throw out random nicknames like "Bamboo Boy" for Linus and rhyming Culber with "poo" to reflect her irritation that his domestic issues are interfering with her department.

Reno Vertical - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 12

I'm probably late to the party to call this but she's basically the Bones of Discovery, isn't she? She even gets to say, "I'm an engineer, not a poet."

Wow, I am SUPER late on that realization.

So it's pretty fitting that she both connects and spars with a doctor. 

Their rapport over having micro-managing neurotic partners is such a powerful moment of camaraderie and she spins it nicely into a gentle, if not subtle, nudge in the direction of Stamets and some sort of healing.

People like us always find people like them and thank god. You have a second chance and it may not last forever. Don't screw it up.


I find it hard to believe that Culber is not undergoing some sort of counseling in the wake of returning from the dead.

So much of his behavior is symptomatic of PTSD that, being surrounded by medical professionals, you'd think SOMEONE would notice.

Sometimes, I guess, it takes an engineer when a doctor can't do.

Stamets in the Mess Hall - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 12

Pike's mission to Boreth was both eye-opening and weirdly nostalgic.

The canon established in Star Trek: The Original Series has Pike ending his career as Discovery's Pike saw in his time crystal vision, crippled and disfigured beyond physical function.

This also ties back to the Talosian adventure on Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 8 where Pike and Vina were able to connect again.

I'm not going to abandon the things that make me who I am because of a future that contains an ending I hadn't foreseen for myself.


Repeatedly, we have been reminded that Pike is the pinnacle of Starfleet integrity.

Admiral Cornwell states it on Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 9

He is listed among the most decorated Starfleet captains on Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 5.

He has been a frequent traveler of the high road in the hunt for the seven signals, often with a clarity of vision that's unexpected.

When the future becomes the past, the present will be unlocked.


Realizing that he goes on to great acts and good deeds DESPITE knowing how he would eventually end up defines his character even more starkly.

Related: Red Angel or Red Herring -- Was Star Trek: Discovery's Reveal Worth the Wait?

In the aftermath of losing her biological mother again to the temporal wormhole, it was rather on point to have Amanda ping in to comfort Burnham.

As I've pointed out before, Burnham's got a lot of moms.

Away Mission Burnham - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 12

Her pursuit of Control was obviously emotional and motivated by a poorly thought-out sense of vengeance.

Sending Spock who only recently got his logic back in the game was a smart balance even if they were both blind to the improbability of Gant surviving Control's extermination of the Section 31 crew.

Spock: Now is not the time for recklessness.
Burnham: Or for unnecessary risks.
Spock: Which is why I must make sure you don't take any.
Burnham: How are you going to do that?

It was definitely a nice touch bringing a face from the Shenzhou to lower Burnham's guard.

Control's obviously got a good sense of how to infiltrate biological emotional defenses.

And, even though I was 95% sure they wouldn't let Control get ahold of Burnham, the tentacle-y, insect-swarmy representation of the encroaching nanobots was threatening enough to get my anxieties up.

On An Enemy Ship - Star Trek: Discovery

There are two logic jumps that I'm having trouble with.

One is regarding Control's plot to lure Burnham.

If the ship's late check-in was the red flag needed to attract her attention, how could Control know that she would be with Tyler when that alert came in?

Saru Vertical - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 12

The other is her assertion that destroying the Discovery, the ONLY ship in the universe with a spore drive, is the only possible solution to being confronted with a fleet of Section 31 ships.

Hello? Spore drive? Reno specifically mentions that they have it running again when she sits down across from Stamets.

Also, I can see why they made the assumption but they don't actually have confirmation that the Section 31 fleet is Control-controlled.

Maybe it's Georgiou-controlled? Equally frightening but in a less totally-annihilation-of-sentient-life way.

Once I absorb the Sphere's data, I will be the purest form of conscious life in all of existence.

Control (Gant)

The good news is that, compared to Star Trek: Discovery Season 1, there are fewer things to wrap up here with two episodes left to go in the season.

The bad news is that we may have yet another cliffhanger (or two) to frustrate us.

In an aside, one can always hope they make more of those awesome mini-episodes in the hiatus. Fingers crossed. 

Related: Short Treks -- A Rundown of Discovery's Mini-Missions

And don't forget to watch Star Trek: Discovery online for that stellar mess hall scene. It's always fun to see the crew relaxing together.

Even if Stamets never actually relaxes.

Honestly, I don't know why more of us don't play the auto-antonym game.

What are your predictions for the Final Two?

Are you on-board with the interwebs' theory on Control?

Are you as sick as I am of time crystals?

Through the Valley of Shadows Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 3.1 / 5.0 (9 Votes)

Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 12 Quotes

This is an enemy we will only defeat by striking first.


All this time, I thought she was dead but it was so much worse. She was trying to stop Control. And I stopped her. I failed her. Then I lost her. All over again.