This week’s episode of Star Trek: Discovery, “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum,” caught up with a dangling plot thread from earlier in the season, and that plot thread may have been resolved with surprising finality. But was that big death in the episode for real?
SPOILERS for Star Trek: Discovery episode eight, “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum,” follow.
The dangling plot thread we’re referring to is the fate of Vice Admiral Katrina Cornwell, played on Star Trek: Discovery by Jayne Brook. The last time fans saw Cornwell was in the episode “Lethe,” which concluded with Cornwell being taken prisoner by Kol and the Klingons while trying to complete Ambassador Sarek’s secret diplomatic mission.
There has been speculation that the previous episode's ending may mean that Cornwell would eventually become the character Lethe from the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “Dagger of the Mind,” but “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum” provided a more concrete answer about what happened to Cornwell next.
At first, the episode seemed to be heading in the direction of the Lethe fan theory, with L’Rell (Mary Chieffo) offering her skills in interrogation to Kol. Once L’Rell is left alone with Cornwell, she revealed her true intention is to aid Cornwell in escaping Kol’s ship. In return, Cornwell is expected to help L’Rell defect to the Federation.
L’Rell and Cornwell come to an agreement and begin making their way to L’Rell’s ship. Unfortunately, they are both spotted by Kol and his guards. While both L’Rell and Cornwell admit that the other is not what they expected, the two nonetheless begin to fight each other. L’Rell eventually gets the better of Cornwell, lifting Cornwell up and slamming her against a device that apparently electrocutes her.
L’Rell tries to cover up her betrayal by telling Kol that Cornwell escaped and that she had tracked the prisoner down. Kol is not happy, but seems to accept this explanation in the moment. L’Rell then drags Cornwell’s body into a room full of Klingon corpses.
The scene seems to imply that Cornwell died in the fight with L’Rell, but did she really? Brook was a guest on the After Trek aftershow that followed the episode and didn’t seem particularly broken up, and spoke about her character as if she still had a role in the series.
So perhaps Cornwell still lives. It's possible that L’Rell only incapacitated Cornwell, possibly intentionally, and that the Admiral will wake up and find a way to escape the Klingon ship. L’Rell certainly seems like she could use the ally after Kol imprisoned her at the end of the episode, and this feels like an unworthy end for Cornwell, who is an interesting and important supporting character in Star Trek: Discovery.
New Star Trek: Discovery episodes become available to stream Sundays at 8:30 p.m. ET on CBS All Access.