“Through the Valley of Shadows” is a showcase episode for Anson Mount’s Captain Pike, while leaving the Discovery and her crew in a precarious position.
This Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 12 recap for the episode titled “Through the Valley of Shadows” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
And the word of the week is “time”. Time crystals (ugh). Time travel. Time for Captain Pike (Anson Mount) to reckon with his deeply unpleasant future. But more on that last one in a moment.
Predictably, another weird signal has appeared, and since last week Dr. Gabrielle Burnham (Sonja Sohn) confessed no knowledge of them, the current working theory is that they’re the responsibility of some other time-traveling presence. Nonetheless, they could still hold the key to preventing Control aka Possibly the Baby Borg from culling all sentient life, so Discovery wants to stay on-mission and investigate when one appears over the Klingon planet Boreth.
You might remember Boreth as the location of the secretive monastery where Ash (Shazad Latif) and L’Rell’s (Mary Chieffo) nipper was dropped off. L’Rell, arriving on Discovery in her official capacity as the Klingon Chancellor, says that she can arrange passage to the monastery, but that she holds no official sway over the monks and that neither her nor Tyler can make the journey to preserve the already rickety Klingon political leadership. So, Pike offers to go instead.
“Through the Valley of Shadows” is something of a showcase episode for Anson Mount, since we know his version of Pike won’t be around beyond this season and that the character himself has a particularly unpleasant future in store — one which he gets to see for himself during the episode. Here’s how that occurs: Once on Boreth, he’s greeted by Ash and L’Rell’s now grown-up albino son, since guardianship of the time crystals makes the past, present, and future rather complicated. He’s not allowed to just take one of the crystals, but he is allowed to earn one by witnessing the future that will be sealed for him if he takes it. And that future involves his face horrifically melting.
Because Pike is just an absurdly good guy, he takes the crystal anyway. While all that’s happening, the second plot of “Through the Valley of Shadows” is taking place. That one concerns a Section 31 ship that has missed its scheduled check-in, and because Discovery can’t investigate without risking the remainder of the sphere’s AI data, Michael (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Spock (Ethan Peck) take a shuttle instead. Once on scene, they discover that the ship’s crew has been fatally ejected into space with the exception of a sole survivor: Burnham’s former Shenzhou shipmate Kamran Gant (Ali Momen).
Suspicious? You bet. But for the purposes of drama, it takes Michael and Spock a good long while to realize that Gant is being puppeteered by Control — and even then only because he reveals himself as part of a plot to trap Burnham since she’s the one variable that the AI cannot control. As part of this sequence, Michael blows a hole in Gant, thus releasing the creeping mass of tentacle nanites which Spock magnetizes to the floor in a particularly clever bit of Science Wins set-piece engineering.
Back on the Discovery, everyone is rather pleased with themselves until *gulp* virtually the entire Section 31 fleet turns up, clearly in pursuit of the sphere’s remaining data. They can’t have that, obviously, running would be futile, and despite being in possession of a time crystal, there isn’t a supernova nearby to power it. With seemingly no other alternative, Michael suggests that Pike destroys Discovery. What could possibly go wrong?