To save their relationship, Specialist Burnham and Lieutenant Tyler face difficult challenges ahead
The cat is finally out of the bag. As it turns out, Lieutenant Ash Tyler is actually Voq, the Klingon Torchbearer. Over the last few months, he’s actually been Ash Tyler and completely unaware of his true origin as a Klingon. Now that the sleeper agent activation by L’Rell has fully taken effect, is there any way to turn back the hands of time and put the cat back into the bag?
Burnham and Tyler have been going pretty hot and heavy ever since they first met shortly after Tyler escaped the Klingons with Captain Lorca. The passion is surprising considering Burnham isn’t exactly in touch with her emotional side after being raised on Vulcan. It’s her first time in love and love can make people do crazy things, like taking an abusive partner back, or, in Burnham’s case, not insisting on finding help when Tyler’s PTSD became prevalent.
You have to feel for Tyler, the personality. Voq has been waiting to get out. Now that he’s in control it’s unclear if Tyler can still be found somewhere in the background. Once prisoner of Klingons, then repeatedly raped by L’Rell, then suffering from PTSD, now possibly stuck as a prisoner in his own body. It’s a lot for someone to go through. But if Voq was suppressed once, certainly he can be suppressed again, and L’Rell is likely the key to doing that.
Burnham was willing to go pretty far to keep Tyler’s PTSD a secret, which helped neither of them in the end. She’s not likely to repeat that same mistake twice if Tyler’s personality can overcome Voq’s. None of this is to say she wouldn’t take him back. There’s already precedence in their relationship when Tyler first met Burnham. “I tend to assess people in the here and now” Tyler said about Burnham, being unphased by her “mutineer” label and reputation. How could Burnham not do the same if Tyler’s personality took back over?
A moral dilemma may destroy Tyler and Burnham’s relationship and change everything
Then there’s the question of whether it’s morally correct to bring Tyler back or not. Tyler’s personality was a construct, created to infiltrate the Federation and Starfleet. Voq is the rightful owner of the body. Just because Burnham loves Tyler, and Tyler’s personality is much more friendly to the Federation, it doesn’t mean Discovery’s crew has the right to suppress Voq* (see ‘Tuvix‘ foot note). Then what becomes of Tyler’s personality? He’s a real person with real emotions, responsibilities, friends, and a lover. It would be immoral to destroy that.
The answer may be to choose neither Tyler nor Voq. Before a split personality and PTSD destroys them both, Tyler needs to seek professional help. Maybe Admiral Cornwell can offer a good reference once back in the regular universe. Two personalities must become one. That’s something Burnham just may be able to live with. After meet Voq in the mirror universe, Burnham sees the potential within Voq. Perhaps she’ll be more willing to forget Voq of our universe nearly crushed her skull and instead encourage the personality traits she sees in mirror Voq.
Voq loves L’Rell and probably won’t want anything to do with Burnham
The flip side of all of this is from Voq’s perspective. Can he be with someone that literally represents the antithesis of his belief… that Klingons must remain Klingon. Burnham not only stands for the Federation that Voq believes comes to destroy him, but she herself didn’t exactly remain Human. She was brought up to act and be more Vulcan. No doubt that Voq will struggle with this “impurity” in Burnham. However it’s likely that Voq’s transition to a human body is irreversible and so he must learn to live among them. The question is; would he rather remain in prison for the rest of his life as Voq or can he take on some of the personality traits that mirror universe Voq has?
Add to this that Voq has been in a relationship with L’Rell since the Battle at the Binary Stars some six or more months ago. That’s longer than Tyler and Burnham have been together. We may see L’Rell wanting to save Voq up against Burnham wanting to save Tyler.
It’s clear a lot needs to happen for these two to stay together, and the odds are almost insurmountable. It’ll be interesting to see where they go over the rest of Season 1 of Star Trek Discovery.
* This dilemma reminds me of the episode Tuvix from Star Trek: Voyager episode number 2×24. I didn’t like the episode much the first time through, but I’ve come to like it a lot since. There’s an uncomfortable struggle with moral questions throughout the episode.