The voyage home.
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Wow. Star Trek: Discovery has spent this whole second half of the season so far dropping crazy reveals, from the arrival in the Mirror Universe to Voq/Tyler to Mirror Lorca. And while those plot turns were telegraphed in advance and crowd-sourced to varying degrees, I doubt anybody saw this episode’s insanity coming as Lorca was killed off in spectacular and pretty definitive fashion and the crew escaped the Mirror U… only to be flung into a future where the Klingons have won the war!
Let’s start with Lorca. We only got confirmation of his Mirror U-ness at the very end of last week’s episode, with things very quickly escalating in “What’s Past Is Prologue” into what turned out to be Jason Isaacs’ grand finale (from what we can tell, anyway). Lorca played the looooong game — one year and 212 days, apparently — finding himself in a universe-swapping transporter accident, somehow acclimating to the Prime Universe, assuming command of the Discovery, and conceiving his grand plan to return home with Prime Burnham in order to use her as his key to finally overthrowing the emperor. And it almost worked!
In what turned into a very Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers-esque, action-packed episode, it really seemed as though things could’ve gone Lorca’s way. After all, since it’s the Mirror Universe, the status quo can more easily be played with. But in the end, not only did Lorca buy it, taking a sword through the torso and a fall into a mycelial network energy ball, but Emperor Georgiou also lost her throne… the reasoning of which seems a bit fuzzy, really, as does Lorca’s ability to overtake the emperor’s ship so easily. Things happened fast in this episode, perhaps a bit too fast considering the long build-up of the past several segments.
There were a ton of great, pulpy moments in “What’s Past Is Prologue.” There’s that big fight scene at the end, of course, which once again shows how well Discovery has transcended the dated action and stunts approach of the TNG through Enterprise era. Want a phaser under the chin and through the top of the end? Sure! Lorca reviving his crew was a nice callback to Khan and his people from TOS’ “Space Seed.” We got some bio-weapons dropped like dramatic asides. And then Lorca’s crazy death scene, of course, was certainly memorable, right before the Discovery staged its big attack on the Charon which also was the trick to its crazy trip back home.
I’m sorry to see Lorca go, even though he did turn out to be a terrible bastard in the end. While last week seemed to indicate that Lorca had a predatory sexual relationship with the Mirror Burnham, this week’s segment backed away from that. And indeed, in my post-episode interview with Isaacs the actor said he didn’t see that as an aspect of the situation at all. Either way, Lorca at the very least was a racist and a murderer. And that makes him a bad guy, if not a bad character. I wish there was a way to spend more time with him, now that his true nature has been revealed, so that we could explore this side of him more fully. (And this being Star Trek, who knows what the future holds?)
(Also, Lorca’s anti-alien sentiments once again tie into the season’s overall themes of intolerance and the pursuit of racial purity, ideas echoed by T’Kuvma’s “Remain Klingon” credo and the Vulcan logic extremists. This of course is Star Trek doing that Star Trek thing of reflecting the real world where, alas, those very ideas are certainly in the headlines lately.)
Elsewhere, Saru is now the captain of the Discovery. And it feels so good! Doug Jones has certainly been the biggest surprise of this show in that he has previously been relegated to being “the guy” who does makeup gigs, but his Saru is so much more than that. Indeed, he’s perhaps the one Discovery character who could fit in just fine with any of the other show’s crews, be it TOS, TNG or what have you. His speech here is Kirk-worthy. “I am surrounded by a team I trust. The finest a captain could ever hope to command. … Discovery is no longer Lorca’s! She is ours. And today will be her maiden voyage.” Who’s the captain now, eh?!
Burnham also gets to put a nice little bow on her Mirror Universe arc as she defeats Lorca and tells him — almost pleads with him — that Starfleet would’ve helped the marooned foreigner get back home after he landed in their universe. But it’s like talking to a wall, alas. Still, her struggle to maintain her inner self when play-acting as Mirror Burnham comes full circle here as she takes the high ground and spares her former captain.
And her issues regarding Georgiou are far from over, as we see that the relationship of the Mirror version of the pair sort of tracks with that of the Prime versions. That Burnham brought Mirror Georgiou back with her to the Prime Universe certainly won’t be something the former emperor will be happy about, though then again, they all have bigger (Klingon) fish to fry with the reveal that they’re nine months in the future now and, apparently, all alone…
And by the way — isn’t there a Mirror Discovery flying around the Prime Universe somewhere too?
Questions and Notes from the Q Continuum:
- Was this the first “official” captain’s log we’ve heard on Discovery? Harry Mudd doesn’t count…
- If Georgiou could activate a site to site transport, why didn’t she just beam Lorca and his people into space?
- So Lorca wound up in the Prime Universe the same way Captain Kirk landed in the Mirror Universe, via a transporter mishap during an ion storm.
- I like how there’s a Commander Landry in the Mirror Universe but she doesn’t seem any more evil than the one from the Prime Universe.
- Mirror Stamets (RIP) is what I imagine the Prime Stamets might’ve been like if he had never met Hugh. (Also, I guess I was wrong last week when I thought the two Stamets had been sent back to the wrong ships. Sorry!)
- It’s nice to see the secondary Disco crewmembers get a bit more to do here, including the robot/whatever-she-is Airiam and the Mirror version of ops officer Owosekun.
- What’s that glowing green particle that landed on Tilly’s shoulder?