STAR TREK DISCOVERY [Season 1, Episode 12 Review]: Vaulting Ambition.
Hello again, fellow geeks. Another week, another bizarre turn as to where Discovery is now taking us. This is some pretty spoiler-heavy coverings after the end of this paragraph, so I’ll leave those either on the fence, or yet to catch up, with this: this second half is wildly better than the first half (although I do miss Harry Mudd), and this week’s episode reorients a lot of the season’s first half.
Now…onto Spoiler Country….
So Michael and Lorca are both aboard the I.S.S Charon, a giant mothership upon which Mirror Georgieu sits as empress. Lorca’s thrown into an agonizer booth as a rebel leader, and Michael Burnham is served fresh Kelpien from Georgieu, who reveals that she had adopted Burnham’s mirror self. On the Discovery, Stamets, while in a comatose state, comes into contact with HIS mirror self while navigating the mycelial network. Turns out they’ve both jumped one too many times, and they’re both trapped in a timeless void that, it appears, is becoming infected by some extra-dimensional virus that can destory both universes — and the mycelial network itself; this means any and every other connected universe is at risk as well. While wandering around he encounters Culber…or some semblance of him? It is unclear whether he’s a ghost (God, I hope not), or some semi-conscience version of himself. But he seems to be “alive”, and I’d hate for him to become some plot-centric mechanism, as his scenes with Stamets actually have genuine warmth and emotion. Culber, for one, always seemed the one character who was always intuitively good, and it is good to have him back.
Also, Tyler is beginning to freak out. It is implied that the Voq personality is working to overpower the Tyler persona (who, it is revealed, was a real person), so Saru allows T’Rell to try to separate the two personalities…it isn’t too kosher for Tyler to continually claw at his own chest. This episode is notable for two reasons. First, and, again, BIG SPOILER: it seems Lorca is, and ALWAYS has been, his mirror self. The Prime Universe Lorca has, to this point, NEVER been seen, and the captain Lorca we’ve been following has been the Mirror Lorca. I didn’t even see this twist coming, but, upon immediate recollection, it made so much sense I’m mad at myself.
Since I never suspected Discovery to explore the Mirror Universe as it is, I never once suspected this “darker” version of Starfleet and the Federation anything other than the showrunners trying to cater to modern tastes. To an extent, I still stand by that, but now there’s an added element of knowing some of these characters never “belonged” to begin with, and that sour taste was appropriate. Speaking of sour taste…how about that explodey death outside the agonizer booth? Haven’t seen shit like that since TNG exploded a man!
Secondly, I love the idea that the Federation is a known threat in the Mirror Universe. Not only does it add a much needed connective tissue to the rest of the franchise, but it also works thematically: of course a non-xenocentric organization extolling freedom, personal growth, and progressive ideals is a threat to this ultra-violent, wildly, comically masculine view of the future and space exploration; no wonder Georgieu would try to keep the existence of a more tolerant reality secret. And, again, I can see where Discovery is going thematically: it’s finally gelling (and might also explain the downgraded technology between this and TOS…down the line…). So what’ve we got? A whole lot of intrigue, some great character moments, and a genuine twist that I didn’t see coming, yet still makes a hell of a lot of sense. Bring Harry Mudd back at least one more time, and I’m happy. 4/5 Well-Cooked Threat Ganglia.