Can we all agree that this episode of Discovery should have been called “Terran Firma?” It could have. Either way, “Terra Firma, Part I” broke up the story that we were all enjoying. The main focus of the third season had been the mission to discover the source of The Burn. Thanks to this episode, we’ve been transported to a galaxy far, far away.
To me, once I got over the thrill that we were back in the Mirror Universe, the story was much like Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Georgiou is Scrouge, and she is back in her own time and place to make things right. The guy Carl (Paul Guilfoyle) is really more like a Christmas Ghost than Q. Carl is full of many riddles and few answers, forcing Georgiou to chose her own path.
We start out in the sickbay (again — just like the last episode), where Dr. Culber and the mysterious Kovich (played by David Cronenberg, seen first in “Die Trying”) discuss what to do about Georgiou. Kovich reveals that he’s seen this before, in the form of a “Time Soldier.” We see a humanoid male named Yor standing before them wearing a TNG-style uniform.
NOTE: This uniform is specifically without the back collar, which denotes the first two seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Kovich told Culber that this being was a survivor of the Temporal Wars (a reference to the storyline permeated through Star Trek: Enterprise). Eventually, he was put to death because he could not survive the jump from the Kelvin Universe, and through time. It turns out that one’s body is supposed to live in the universe and time when it was born to. It was why the Time Warrior was put down and why Georgiou was suffering so much.
Culber noted that the crew of the DISCO was just fine. Kovich said that was true, but they had jumped from another universe and jumped through time. The only other time he’d seen anything like that was when a Romulan mining vessel made a similar “incursion.”
NOTE: This is a reference to the Narada, the ship from Star Trek (2009), which brought Nero back to the time of George Kirk, creating a new timeline — and two sequels!
Kovich told Culber not to say anything to her about any of this because a Terran’s last dying wish is to die in battle. Georgiou would go nuts if she knew it was the end. Kovich told Culber to sedate Georgiou in the brig.
Culber asked the computer (which was now full of the 900 years of data from the years the Discovery missed, and all 100,000 years of non-Starfleet information from the Sphere) for a solution to Georgiou’s problem. Kovich said that was a waste of time, but the computer found something.
Meanwhile, Georgiou struggled to pick up a glass in the mess hall. Her hand phased through the stem of the goblet. As she simmered, Tilly walked over to her and offered to help. Georgiou grew angry and threw Tilly’s food on her chest. Michael walked over and broke it up. She walked Georgiou out.
Culber announced that the “cure” could be found on Dannus V. He and Kovich presented the findings to Michael, Saru, and Admiral Vance. Culber said that Georgiou had just a 5-percent chance of survival if they got to Dannus V, but zero chance of living if they did not.
Saru said, “the needs of the many” (which is a quote from Star Trek II) to try to shut down the mission to save Georgiou. Vance intervened and authorized the mission. When they all left, Vance pulled Saru aside to say that when Vance was young, he did not take advice. Vance told Saru to take his advice. Sometimes the need of the one must be worth saving, and the crew will look at him differently for it.
Saru quietly agreed.
In the gym (or possibility a new holodeck), Michael told Georgiou of the Dannus V plan. Georgiou didn’t want to hear it and challenged Michael to a fight. Michael refused.
“Fight me!” yelled Georgiou, right before she threw an ax.
“This is the coward’s way out!” Michael whispered. “You know I would never hurt you.”
Georgiou slapped Michael. “Then you will die.” She picked up a sword and swung it at Michael’s neck, stopping just before it hit.
“Killing me would have been the greatest honor of ‘my’ Burnham’s life,” said Georgiou. She whined about how life is in the Prime Universe and how she wanted death in battle. Michael said she would not get that sort of death in this universe. Instead, she’d be just a scientific curiosity.
Michael said that Georgiou would have a final adventure in the wild on Dannus V. Georgiou reminded Michael that she saved the Terran Michael from a life living on a garbage heap. Georgiou said that Prime Michael and Terran Michael were not that different. They both had the need to bend people to their wills.
“The only difference is that you lie about it to yourself,” said Georgiou as she pointed at Michael’s heart. She agreed to go with Michael, who put a bioscanner on Georgiou’s wrist. Culber asked that Georgiou wear it. When it showed red, Georgiou’s time was up.
When the Discovery arrived at Dannus V, Georgiou packed a lot of phaser firepower (which transformed into energy on her wrists, like the bad guys’ weapons on “That Hope Is You, Part 1”). Saru came to say goodbye to Georgiou, saying that he’d learned much from her. Tilly also came to say goodbye, giving Georgiou a friendly hug.
Georgiou and Michael beamed to the surface, which was cold and icy. They found nothing, but Michael’s sensors picked up something. They walked.
Back on the Discovery, Adira was freaking because her algorithm wouldn’t work and because she hadn’t heard from Gray for so long. Her algorithm was supposed to be decrypting the message from the Federation ship trapped in the Verubin Nebula (as seen in the last episode). Stamets walked up and showed her why the algorithm was not working and offered some advice about Gray. He reminded her that Gray wanted Adira to meet others on the ship. While they spoke, the algorithm finished. They both stared.
“Go find Saru,” Stamets asked. Adira did just that.
We see Saru walking through the corridors of the ship when Cleveland “Book” Booker started walking with him. Book explained that he’d like to join the ship, but Saru said that Book would have to begin with training. Book didn’t seem to like the sound of that.
On Dannus V, Georgiou and Michael bickered as they walked in the snow. Georgiou complained that “her Burnham” would have figured this out by now. After listening to the other Burnham, Michael asked Georgiou why she chose her Burnham out of anyone to adopt.
“All the other children came running… hand out, pleading,” said Georgiou. “You stayed on the [garbage] heap.”
They continued to argue and walk until they stumbled upon a human male sitting in a chair by a door. He identified himself as “Carl” and spoke in riddles.
“Well look at that,” said Carl. “I was just reading about you.” He held up a newspaper with Georgiou’s photo on the front. It was The Star-Dispatch, and it read, “EMPORER GEORGIOU DIES HORRIBLY PAINFUL DEATH.”
NOTE: This is the same newspaper which Spock looked at to see the future “City on the Edge of Forever,” a classic from The Original Series.
He started telling jokes about the wooden doorway, which stood in the middle of the snow. They tried to get him to explain why it was there, but he wouldn’t.
“Where does it lead?” asked Georgiou.
“It doesn’t lead,” said Carl. “It follows.”
Georgiou started to break apart again as they stood. Michael implored Carl to help. He told her that they both ought to read the paper. Georgiou said that she was still alive, according to the article.
“That’s because this is tomorrow’s news,” said Carl. He held up the newspaper again, and they understood. He waved a pocket watch in front of his chest and told Georgiou that she was welcome to continue wasting time.
NOTE: If you look closely at the newspaper, you can see all sorts of little tidbits, like Vulcan writing and a headline that declared the end of the T’Kon Empire (which we learned about in the TNG episode, “The Last Outpost.”)
On the Discovery, they listened to the message from a Dr. Issa of the K.S.F. Khi’eth… who was transmitting from inside the nebula. She was a Kelpian, like Saru. She said that her ship had been stranded but contacted by Capt. Robert Weems of the U.S.S. Hiraga Gennai.
NOTE: Hiraga Gennai was a Japanese writer, physician, painter, and inventor who lived in the 18th Century.
Weems said they’d be rescuing the Khi’eth, but he never arrived. Tilly noted that Dr. Issa was suffering from radiation burns in her video message. Stamets said the recording was made at least 100 years ago, even before The Burn. Tilly said the Khi’eth was on a mission to learn about possible dilithium nurseries in the nebula.
Saru said that he’d like to know what was happening inside the Khi’eth. Stamets said they had the prefix code of the Khi’eth, so they could use their computers to control the Khi’eth’s.
NOTE: The prefix code stuff was straight out of Star Trek II. Kirk used the prefix codes of the U.S.S. Reliant to have the ship lower its shields.
Saru told Stamets to “do it.” Tilly asked if she should brief the admiral. Saru said no because Vance was focused on the threat of the Emerald Chain. They’d wait until they had more news before they’d tell Vance.
Back on Dannus V, Georgiou decided to go through the door. Carl said that the bracelet would stay green, but there are plenty of other ways to die. Michael tried to stop Georgiou.
“God Michael,” said Georgiou. “Know when to shut the hell up.”
Georgiou glanced back at Michael and walked through. She found herself in the Terran Universe! She was now in her golden armor, stepping down the ramp of a shuttle. A Terran crew hailed her as she stood, led by Tilly… I mean, “Killy.”
NOTE: We have now passed into the Mirror Universe, where Rome never fell, and Hilter started a world government called the Terran Empire. It’s basically the opposite of the Federation. We first saw the Mirror Universe in The Original Series episode, “Mirror, Mirror” which aired on Oct. 6, 1967.
Georgiou looked down and realized that she was still wearing the bracelet. Tilly addressed her as “Emperor Georgiou,” and Georgiou asked for a full status report. As they walked through the halls of the ship, Tilly gave Georgiou a few nuggets of intel. Though Georgiou seemed uninterested, she was listening for critical points, so she could understand the date she now appeared in.
“This is the day we christen the Charon,” said Georgiou.
NOTE: The Charon is a massive, all-powerful imperial ship that we saw in action during Discovery’s first season. It’s also the boat’s name that carries the dead across the River Styx in Greek Mythology. Sorta creepy.
Georgiou realized that this was also the day that Captain Gabriel Lorca was going to try to take her throne (as seen in the Discovery, Season One episode “Vaulting Ambition”).
Tilly admitted to knowing of the plot against Georgiou. Lorca was stirring up trouble, and Michael was also involved. Georgiou knew all about it and said that she would handle it. She also told Tilly that Michael would “return to the fold.”
“The path forward would change because I will change it!” said Georgiou.
NOTE: Does this mean Georgiou will change the future? Can she change the outcomes that have happened in the past? And, if so, does that create a new timeline?
Tilly warned Georgiou that if anyone found out that she planned to spare Michael’s life, she would lose the people’s loyalty. Georgiou told Tilly that no one must find out.
“I know Michael,” said Georgiou. “It is not too late for her to make a different choice.”
In the mess hall, Georgiou observed the crew drinking heavily, throwing knives, and testing how long they can take the pain of miniature agonizers.
NOTE: It is here that we see our friend Hannah Cheesman, who portrayed the robotic character Airiam last season. We confirmed with her (via Twitter) that she is back on Trek playing Airiam without the artificial prosthetics.
Tilly finally announced Georgiou to the group, and they immediately hailed her as their supreme ruler. From the rear, one person walked while all others saluted. It was Michael.
“Hello mother,” said Michael. Georgiou looked spooked at first but held out her arm. They clutched each other.
“It’s so good to see you,” said Georgiou.
Later, in a throne room, Georgiou and Michael chatted. Georgiou said that Michael was scouting a planet, Kepler 174-d. This was a planet that Georgiou had explored as well.
NOTE: This is a real place! According to NASA, Kepler 174-d is “a Neptune-like exoplanet that orbits a K-type star.”
Michael said that the art at Kepler 174-d was exquisite and would be more valuable soon. She detailed how she killed all the artists on the planet. Georgiou seemed upset on hearing this. As they talked about profits, Georgiou told Michael that she could bring any problems her way.
As they spoke, a Kelpian slave dropped some food on the boot of Commander Ellen Landry (Rekha Sharma). Landry yelled at the Kelpian and ordered that he be sent to the butcher. As it played out, Michael said Kelpians should all be killed.
NOTE: Landry will die in the DISCO episode “What’s Past Is Prologue”… unless Georgiou changes a bunch of things.
The slave version of Saru helped the Kelpian up.
Georgiou asked Michael what she knew about Lorca’s plot. Michael said that she’s slept with Lorca a few times but was now uninterested. Georgiou didn’t believe her.
Slave Saru walked to Michael with a goblet of wine, and Michael smashed it from his hands. She threatened to have Saru killed and eaten. Georgiou watched in horror and finally stopped it. Georgiou took Saru for her own. This was unusual for Terrans, who treated their slaves like slaves.
In her quarters, Georgiou asked Saru what he knew about Lorca and Michael. Saru said they felt that Georgiou had changed, and Michael “cannot love what is weak.” Georgiou ordered that Saru would report back to her with anything.
As Georgiou, Saru, and others walked to the ceremony, they encountered a fight between Lt. Gen Rhys and Lt. Joann Owosekun (who served as head of Georgiou’s honor guard). Micael joined the crowd who watched. Georgiou and Michael put down a small wager. As they fought, Georgiou lectured Michael on loyalty. Tilly broke up the fight because it took too long (but Owo was going to kill Rhys).
The show before the christening ceremony of the Charon was grand. Hosted by Stamets, it featured an epic poem and acrobats on silk ribbons acting out Georgiou’s incredible feats. At the end of the rhyme, the curtains parted to show the Charon in space.
As Georgiou spoke on the stage of her vision for the Terran Empire, Stamets snuck behind her with a dagger. But she whirled around and stabbed him in the neck instead. Michael looked shocked, but Georgiou did not miss a beat.
“One disloyal individual can destroy everything which we have built… everything we will yet become,” said Georgiou. “And I will not allow that.”
She returned to her throne, and Michael stood and began chanting, “long live Georgiou!” The others gathered joined in as well. Michael left before the Emperor did, and both Georgiou and Owo noticed.
As she walked, Michael found herself quickly surrounded by Tilly, Owo, and the other guards. Georgiou said that she knew Michael was working with Stamets and that Lorca is involved. Georgiou offered to spare Michael’s life if she confessed.
Michael laughed to herself, then screamed, “who are you?” to Georgiou. “Your weakness grows every day!”
“Do not confuse weakness with growth,” said Georgiou. “My power is absolute, as you have seen. You owe me that.”
“Why?” asked Michael. “Because you plucked me out of a trash heap? I was master of that trash heap. And now, I’m nothing … a tool. I’m just this reflection of you that can never stand on my own. Lorca… he loves me for me. And he honors me for me.”
Michael admitted to everything and said she’d do it again. She asked Georgiou for execution. Georgiou took her sword, slashed it, and stopped it on Michael’s throat. Tilly and Owo look at each other with disappointment… as if they both would gain by Michael’s death.
“No, that is the easy way,” said Georgiou. “And I know how that story ends. As of this moment, the future is unwritten. Let’s make it count, shall we?”
Georgiou ordered Michael to the agonizer.
TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:
WOW! What an episode. It was a big surprise getting to go back to the Mirror Universe. Still, I had a feeling that something extradimensional would have to happen to save Georgiou for the Section 31 show that is supposedly in development.
That being said, we saw a possible new Q (Carl), a reason why Saru might disobey orders (a Kelpian ship in distress), and a massive change of heart by Georgiou. She got to the Mirror Universe and found that she had changed. She didn’t like the nasty life there. And she’s going to try to save Michael’s soul in the next episode.
RATING: 5 out of 5