Review: Star Trek: Discovery, “The Wolf Inside”

Well, this is better than last week’s disaster, even if that’s not a high bar to clear.

The official logo for Star Trek: Discovery“The Wolf Inside” sees Burnham continue to struggle to maintain her cover in the Mirror Universe. When she’s ordered to massacre a group of rebels, she seeks alternate solutions, seeing the multi-racial insurgents as a pale shadow of the Federation of her own reality.

I really enjoyed this hopeful, idealistic Burnham. I wonder if she’s met the Michael Burnham who started a war with the Klingons out of blind racism.

This is another episode that hearkens back to Star Trek’s traditional identity — full of adherence to an idealistic morality — and it’s nice to see, but it’s starting to just feel like paying lip service. It’s like every few episodes the writers are like, “Oh, right, this is a Star Trek show. Better throw in a couple quick lines of moral pontificating.”

Because there isn’t a whole lot of depth here. The Mirror Universe is too much a cartoon parody of evil for this philosophizing about the potential for darkness within us to have any real resonance. One or two instances of the protagonists demonstrating basic decency does not a profound message make. Any claims to diversity or inclusiveness have been rendered moot by Discovery’s consistently shabby treatment of anyone who isn’t white or Burnham.

Also, the Tyler/Voq arc is still a mess. They’ve really painted themselves into a corner here. They can’t wrap it up too fast because it’s too integral to the both the main plot and the character arcs, but I really find nothing at all appealing about it, for all the reasons mentioned in my last review.

The titular ship in Star Trek: DiscoveryA betrayal story works best when the traitor is someone who should know better. Someone who was once good, or appeared that way, but fell from grace. Their bonds with the other characters need to be real for severing those bonds to mean anything.

There was never anything decent in Voq. It was all just smoke and mirrors. The stolen memories of a dead man. He’s just a monster. He can’t truly betray the Discovery crew because he was never really one of them. Emotionally, it all falls flat.

Once again, the highlight comes from Tilly. Oh, her story is boring and predictable in the extreme, but Mary Wiseman plays it so well.

She is too good for this show.

It occurs to me this reads as another very critical review, despite the fact “The Wolf Inside” was really a pretty decent episode. But that’s the risk in an arc-based series like this. If the entire arc is based on fundamentally weak premises, it kind of sucks the fun out of everything.

Other Star Trek shows had rocky first seasons, too, but in those cases you could just shrug and move on after every bad episode. Each week brought a fresh start.

Cadet Tilly's Mirror Universe counterpart, "Captain Killy"Discovery doesn’t have that luxury. Its stumbles just keep accruing, threatening to sabotage the whole series. To paraphrase the great Sir William Talent, Discovery dug a hole so deep it’s going to drown in its mistakes.

Overall rating: 7/10

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SWTOR: The Hunt Is On

The journey comes to a close. It may have taken around two years, but I have now completed all eight class stories in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Last but not least? Bounty hunter.

Mako and my bounty hunter in Star Wars: The Old RepublicI didn’t put a whole lot of thought into the order in which I tackled the class stories. I mostly just went for whatever seemed interesting at any given time. However, as an Imperial loyalist, I did want my last class to be an Imperial, and that led to my Nova-inspired bounty hunter being the final one.

One last time:

Bounty hunter is neither the best nor the worst class story. It has a lot of great elements, but also a lot of rough patches and filler. It most reminds me of the Sith inquisitor story, in that it’s a plot that peaks very early, but its end doesn’t disappoint quite so badly as the inquisitor’s did, and some great characters help carry it through.

Chapter one is the highlight. The Great Hunt isn’t a particularly interesting premise on paper, but you have a good emotional investment in it via Mako and Braden (more on that later), and you encounter some very entertaining characters and situations along the way. It’s a good ride.

Chapter two, meanwhile, is pure filler in the truest sense of the term. It’s not interesting, and it doesn’t very little to advance the story. It’s just a waste of time.

Chapter three is more mixed, and to discuss that I need to back up a bit and examine the character of the bounty hunter themselves.

My bounter hunter in Star Wars: The Old RepublicSomething I’ve found frustrating from the outset is that Bioware clearly intends you to play your BH as a bloodthirsty sadistic thug. You can find more reasonable or diplomatic options, but even trying to play neutral, let alone good, is like navigating a minefield.

I’ve got no problem if people want to role-play their BH as psychopaths, but that wasn’t what I had in mind. I envisioned mine as a polished professional. A bit mercenary, a bit greedy (she is literally a mercenary after all), but not cruel or malicious. Just someone trying to make a living in a hard and unforgiving galaxy.

I won’t say it was impossible to achieve that, but it was harder than it should have been.

And it’s in chapter three this comes to a head. In chapter three, your character is a bad person. You don’t get a choice. There is no choosing the lesser of two evils. You just do awful, unpardonable things. Even the Sith classes almost always have the option to be kind and noble, but not the bounty hunter.

And that did not sit right with me. My BH was not a saint, but she wasn’t a monster, either. Not until the game made her one.

But then the ending turned it around. It’s hard to explain without spoiling things, but you do get your shot at redemption… or at least vengeance. It could have been handled better — I would have liked some opportunities along the way for my BH to express regret over what she’d been forced to do — but on the whole it proved a satisfying ending and at least somewhat absolved chapter three.

My bounty hunter in Star Wars: The Old RepublicSpeaking of characters…

The hunting party:

Bounty hunter is another class story where one of the companions ended up stealing the show for me. In this case, it’s Mako. I took an instant liking to her, and my appreciation only deepened with time. The fact she’s basically just Five from Dark Matter minus the blue hair probably contributes.

To me, Mako feels like the real main character of this story, especially early on. She has the emotional investment in the Great Hunt. She’s the one with a real arc, with real growth. The player BH just feels like a goon, whereas Mako is allowed to be a real person.

I quickly made it my head canon that Mako was the real brains of the operation, while my character was more the hired muscle. In every choice where Mako offered an opinion, I took her advice.

I have heard some people complain Mako is too soft to be a bounty hunter, and I kind of agree, but that’s what makes her an interesting character. She isn’t cut out for this life, but she doesn’t have much choice. This is all she’s ever known.

Mako in Star Wars: The Old RepublicI was frustrated by how incomplete her story is, though. She has this great mystery building all through the game, and then it just ends without any answers or a clear conclusion. They must have meant to finish it post-launch, but then companions got abandoned until KotFE. Maybe they’ll finally finish her story if/when she gets reintroduced to the story.

Moving on from Mako, Gault is another great companion. Yeah, he’s a bit of a scumbag, but he’s just too much fun. He’s basically a dude version of Vette, and I’m very okay with that.

Unfortunately it’s all downhill from there on the companion front. First there’s Torian Snorian, who is the answer to the question, “What if drywall were a person?”

Then you get Blizz, an obnoxious cutesy mascot shoehorned into the class where an obnoxious cutesy mascot is most out of place, and Skadge, who is Tychus Findlay. Seriously, it’s the same voice actor, and essentially the same character. I didn’t like him in StarCraft, and I don’t like him here.

But at least your first two and most developed companions are awesome. That still averages to better luck on the companion front than some classes get.

My bounty and her companions in Star Wars: The Old RepublicAs an aside, I tried something a little different with my companions’ appearances this time, as you may have noticed from the screenshots. Rather than giving everyone their own unique style, I tried to design all their outfits around a similar theme, a kind of uniform for the squad.

Of course Blizz kind of ruins it. Stupid space squirrel…

* * *

So bounty hunter won’t go down as my favourite class story, but it was a decent note to end on.

Stay tuned, though, as I will be doing at least one more post looking back on this entire journey.