Normally I’d just complain about this on Facebook or wherever, but since it’s also a spoiler for the season finale of Star Trek Discovery, I decided to put it here on the blog. Spoilers after the jump!
OK, so let’s set the scene: we’re in the caves under the Klingon homeworld of Qo’nos. Mirror Phillipa Georgiou from the Federation’s fascistic Mirror Universe equivalent has planted a bomb in a dormant volcano which will cause it to erupt and destroy much of the planet.
“This isn’t how the Federation does things!” Michael pleads. “We don’t commit genocide.” When told that the Federation doesn’t have the luxury of principles, she replies “It’s the only thing we have.”
So, the stirring music establishes that what Michael is doing is the ethical, moral thing. Rather than detonate the bomb, she decides to… give control of the bomb to a Klingon rebel.
The show paints this as a great, heroic thing to do but… she hasn’t saved any Klingons from jeopardy. There is still a bomb in the heart of their planet, which is now in the hands of a religious fanatic. All she has done is wash her hands of direct responsibility if that bomb does go off.
To give a real world analogy, imagine it was discovered that the USA had planted a bomb in North Korea, so they have the power to destroy Pyongyang and all its people in an instant. “This isn’t how the United States does things,” you say, and to save North Korean lives you take control of the bomb… and then give it to a South Korean extremist group.
In conclusion, Michael did nothing heroic or ethical by giving L’rell the bomb controls, but the fact the show seems to think she did may explain why to this day, superpowers seem to get away with fueling wars by giving weapons to rebels as long as their own soldiers don’t get involved.