Ghost in the shell.
Full spoilers follow for this episode. Click here if you want to learn how to watch Star Trek: Discovery.
Discovery is warping hot and fast towards the conclusion of its first season, as this third Mirror Universe episode answered even more questions, solved even more mysteries, and presented even more dire stakes to our intrepid Starfleeters — all while also flipping the script on one major character in particular.
Let’s start then at the end, where the theory was confirmed that Captain Lorca has actually been the Mirror U. version of Lorca all season. This idea has been percolating for months among fans. It started because of his general warmongering attitude, escalated when he left Harry Mudd to his probable death in that Klingon jail, and was pretty well telegraphed in the mid-season finale when a quick cutaway shot indicated that he had purposely sent the Discovery to the Mirror U. But now, not only does Emperor Georgiou explain the obvious to Burnham, but Lorca himself seemingly confirms it while fighting the captain of the ISS Charon: “Her name was Ava. And I liked her. But you know how it is. Somebody better came along.”
It’s that last part that is particularly troubling, however, and revelatory. Up until now, I’ve really liked Lorca despite his rough edges, and the idea that he might be Mirror Lorca didn’t seem so bad. After all, there are good guys in the Mirror Universe too! But this reveal that he was a father figure who apparently groomed Mirror Burnham to become his lover is perhaps the most horrific thing we’ve seen a Mirror U. character do, and that’s saying something. Because while agony booths and taking out your commanding officer and the like are all Evil with a capital “E,” they’re also as cartoonish as Spock’s fake goatee. But now you’re talking about a brand of awful that is way too real. Perhaps it will turn out that Emperor Georgiou is making all this up in order to play Burnham, but as it stands right now, Lorca is irredeemable.
Michelle Yeoh’s return as this world’s ruler also brings a much improved performance from the actress. Her turn as Captain Georgiou in the two-part pilot didn’t work that well, but she seems to have found her groove here as the “I’ll kill all my lieutenants with this flying disc thingee and not bat an eye” emperor of the Terran Empire, but one who still seems to have a soft spot for her “daughter” Burnham. Yeoh’s scenes with Sonequa Martin-Green are pretty effective, particularly as we know Burnham is suffering doubly so because she’s also dealing with the “ghost” of her Georgiou.
“Vaulting Ambition” also clarified Tyler/Voq’s situation somewhat — though I’m still a little hazy on what the original Tyler’s status is. Mary Chieffo, who is underutilized by this show sometimes, got to shine as L’Rell and Saru went back and forth about Voq’s very messed up condition. (It seemed he tried to tear his own skin off, didn’t it?) It’s cool to see Saru play bad cop, as he does here when he beams the injured Tyler/Voq into L’Rell’s cell, playing on her love for the Klingon hybrid. And was that a Klingon death ritual scream she let out in the end, when Tyler was seemingly restored? This arc can’t be resolved that easily…
Elsewhere, Anthony Rapp is finally awake and up and about again. Two of him, actually. The interplay between the two Stamets (yes, Mirror Stamets seems cranky too) is a lot of fun, but it unfortunately doesn’t last too long before they’re both sent back to reality — the wrong realities. And Wilson Cruz persists despite Dr. Culber’s death two episodes back, with him and Rapp sharing a really nice scene together where Stamets just can’t let the past go. He’s grieving, Star Trek style.
Discovery also sets up in this episode what could be the big threat for the rest of the season, as the mycelial network has become corrupted due to Mirror Stamets’ experiments and “everything, everywhere” is in danger of being destroyed. This does remind one, though, that the show has had a bit of a concentration problem in terms of its larger seasonal arc. Is it the Klingon War, the Mirror Universe, or the destruction of the mycelial network that this first season is about? Hey, maybe all those elements will come together in the final three upcoming episodes of year one.
Questions and Notes from the Q Continuum:
- Get a load of the ISS Charon. And what is that giant ball of energy floating under its hull? Emperor Georgiou has the hook-up!
- What do you want to order for dinner? Chinese, Italian or Kelpian?
- For a second there I thought the Lorca loyalist who was brought in to the agony booth area was going to turn out to be Mirror Tyler. Turns out it’s a good thing it wasn’t…
- Of course it makes total sense that the emperor would know all about the Federation and the prime universe. It would be nice to get a reference to Empress Sato from Enterprise at some point, though.