Brief Thoughts On Star Trek: Discovery, Episode 12
by Erik Amaya
The Mirror Universe is still full of surprises. Also surprising is the way Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) — both in her Prime and Mirror versions — always finds a way to commit the highest offenses in the realm. You might even say it is the greatest bit of evidence for the existence of destiny.
This week’s episode brought us to Emperor Georgiou’s (Michelle Yeoh) flagship, the I.S.S. Charon and to the very heart of the philosophical and biological differences between Prime and Mirror humans. It also brought us closer to the depraved way Terrans conduct themselves within that universe. It almost makes one wonder if the original anthology concept of Star Trek: Discovery would’ve seen an all-out war between the two realities in a second season set in the late 2300s or early 2400s; a timeframe after all established continuity.
And yet, the show does some marvelous things with the constraints of established Trek lore. The Emperor’s knowledge of the Federation and the U.S.S. Defiant means the events of the Star Trek: Enterprise episode “In a Mirror Darkly” not only happened, but effected the development of the Empire. It also leads to a number of intriguing questions for both realities. In the Mirror Universe, it seems that the real info on the Defiant is available only to the Emperor, but was that Hoshi Sato’s doing or a subsequent potentate? And how is the file unsealed if succession is ultimately decided by betrayal or combat?
Which, when you think about it, also offers some question about how Starfleet’s commander-in-chief or the UFP president are chosen.
But those are merely Trek fan questions while the meat of the episode brought us even closer to Burnham’s true heart and revealed, at long last, why Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs) seemed an unlikely Starfleet captain. For Burnham, it seems defying Georgiou is destiny and, perhaps, the truest part of her soul. Though it is interesting to note that Emperor Georgiou questions that defiance as “something missing” in Burnham’s character. In both realities, the loss of her parents and the arrival of adoptive family figures without the ability to help her with that loss seems to factor greatly in her overall sense of dissatisfaction. This seems particularly true of the Mirror Burnham as the Emperor tells us she gave her everything a Terran could want.
Well, almost everything.
It is interesting how the phrase “he groomed you” took on a completely sinister tone in our 21st Century. Enough, in fact, that when the Emperor used it in relation to Lorca, Burnham discerned he and Mirror Burnham has a sexual relationship while plotting to overthrow Georgiou’s rule of the galaxy. And it seems Lorca’s interest in Burnham lead him to the Prime Universe, where he could groom a new Burnham into helping with his design. With this revelation, everything about Lorca snapped into place. Many fans guessed the truth about him months ago, but I was dubious about the hypothesis. To me, it was interesting to see a man so unlike a Starfleet captain in command of an advanced science vessel. It seemed he was serving the ideals of the Federation by committing acts it could not support; a seeming necessity even in the utopia of the Federation. And being a fan, I kept thinking he might be a Section 31 operative as his primary concern always seemed to be the security of Federation. But in the end, his primary concern was getting Prime Burnham to his home universe.
But what is Lorca’s real plan here? It is easy to assume its simple treason and a reason for it. Let’s assume, for a moment, that the line of succession has been female since Hoshi Sato arrived in Earth orbit aboard the Defiant. Considering all of Lorca’s other proclivities, is it possible he hates the simple fact that the Terran Empire is run by women? There are other reason to kill the Emperor; but this seems like a likely motive.
Which makes you wonder what sort of man Prime Lorca was — or is — like…
Meanwhile, Stamets (Anthony Rapp) rode the network back to his body. But along the way he accepted Culber’s (Wilson Cruz) death and learned the corruption which threatens the very fabric of existence. I know a number of science-minded fans have protested the spore network as bad science. The hypothesis behind the story point was disproven sometime after the series committed to the idea. And while trying to threaten both realities with it may not work as plot point, the use of it lead to an amazing emotional moment for Stamets and Culber; whose conscious seems to be caught within the network. But as the Mirror Universe keeps leading us to questions, here’s another: why is Mirror Stamets aboard the Charon and not the I.S.S. Discovery? Where is Captain “Killy” and her cut-throat crew? Also, how did Mirror Stamets corrupt the network? What was he trying to accomplish?
Finally, it seems Voq, Son of None (Shazad Latif) is dead. At least, that’s what L’Rell’s (Mary Chieffo) scream indicated. For all appearances, it seemed giving Tyler’s consciousness supremacy in his own body was the only way to save them both even if it meant “killing” Voq. But considering the amount of subterfuge involved in Voq and L’Rell’s plan, this could also be for show. What is also interesting here is the revelation that Tyler was a real person. His DNA and consciousness were used to remold Voq into a simulacrum of a man who apparently died during the Battle of the Binary Stars. And yet, like Culber, it seems Tyler was granted a second life. Which means all of his trauma was real. But it also means the character has a truly interesting complication the series will need to confront at some point.
Considering the pace of the series, it may even occur next week.
Star Trek: Discovery streams Sundays on CBS All Access.