With just two episodes left in the second season of 'Star Trek: Discovery' and a third season on the way, you have to wonder how many episodes in its third season will be devoted to plugging holes in plot.
It's not that every other episode of 'Star Trek: Discovery' has felt like a pointed step towards a more familiar iteration of the 'Trek' we all know and remember, but you've got to wonder when will the writing become less sloppy and make itself more tighter and effective.
Of course, the rule of thumb in 'Star Trek', whether it's 'The Next Generation' or 'Deep Space Nine', or to a lesser degree 'Voyager', is that it needs two seasons to find its feet. Almost none of them land right on their first season, and the stumble off from the second yields some interesting episodes.
'Through The Valley Of Shadows' sees the Discovery in orbit over Boreth, a Klingon monastery world where the child of Tyler / Voq (Shazad Latif) and Chancellor L'Rell (Mary Chieffo) was kept hidden. Also, as if from nowhere, Chancellor L'Rell reveals that it's where time crystals are harvested. Because, y'know, it's just that simple and easy.
Sure enough, because Tyler / Voq and L'Rell need to keep the existence of their child a secret, Captain Pike (Anson Mount) bravely volunteers to head to the surface and recover a time crystal, thus giving them a fighting chance of stopping Control once and for all. That the episode rounds on Pike and keeps the focus on him is a smart move, as he's clearly the most engaging character in this season so far.
In order to be able to harvest a time crystal, Pike is shown a vision of his future - one that's already been referenced in 'If Memory Serves' where hardcore Trek fans will know that Pike eventually end up. What's intriguing about this whole sequence is that Pike then knows his fate and ultimately accepts it, because it's what's needed. Sacrifice, duty, commitment - that's what being a Starfleet officer means to him, even if it means putting himself through agony to do it.
It's a bold, powerful sequence and really is one of the highlights of Anson Mount's performance as Pike, but where does it all lead? Does he now have to accept this fate? All things considered, yes. He's paid the price, so now he has to live with the knowledge that he's sealed his doom. But beyond that, there's also what it means for the continuity of 'Star Trek' as a whole, as this really does open up a wormhole-sized plot hole.
If the Klingons had access to time crystals all this time, why didn't they use them? Sure, we know that Klingons are a deeply religious race of aliens, as evidenced throughout the franchise and especially in this episode. Maybe they saw them as sacred, but why then simply give them to Pike? If the Klingon Empire held no sway over Boreth, why did they allow something as tactically advantageous as time-travel to simply sit there, unused, in their war against the Federation?
Time-travel, as we've said before, is always a tricky thing to get right. You have to boil it down to a familiar concept, like how they did in 'The Red Angel' and 'Perpetual Infinity', where it was revealed that Michael's mother was the one behind the Red Angel and was jumping through to time to return home to her family. That makes sense, because we've got a concept anyone can understand.
It'd be reasonable to assume that they're planning to use the time-crystal in conjunction with Stamets' spore-drive ability to jump back in time and stop all of this from happening, but the question is how they're going to tidy this all with two episodes left in the bag to do it in.
Considering how the second season of 'Star Trek: Discovery' has been about fixing the problems of the first season by going back into the past, it's almost poetic that the second season ends up in another mess of their own doing from time-travel.