The good news is, I already went through my rant about the Mirror Universe in last week’s review, so there’s no need to repeat it here. The bad news is, well, we’re still in the Mirror Universe. Not all of “Terra Firma, Part 2” takes place on the dark side of the plot, but enough of it does to make the rest of the episode largely irrelevant. A conversation about the Kelpian distress signal, Booker proving himself useful, and Vance being decent to Saru; that’s more or less it. If you combined this with the first part of last week’s episode, you wouldn’t have a complete story, but it still would make more sense than what we ended up with. The split in this two part (and the fact that it’s a two parter at all) is so fundamentally baffling I can’t really imagine who thought it would be a good idea. TV shows do multi-episode storylines when they have a plot that can’t be conveyed in a single hour; they don’t dice up plots just create one from scratch.
But hey, this is Georgiou’s goodbye from Star Trek: Discovery, so maybe the writers thought they needed more time to give her a more fitting farewell. I just wish that farewell had played out like anything more than unnecessary padding. “Part 2” finds Georgiou back in her old tiara as the Empress of the Terran Empire. Having decided to spare Evil Michael Burnham’s life, thus changing the timeline, Georgiou goes about trying to rehabilitate her adopted daughter via torture. Lots of the time in the old agonizer, lots of speeches, lots of sneering. Eventually, Michael kneels and claims that she’s seen the error of her ways. She kills a lot of people to prove herself to Mom, but it’s all another lie, and this time, Georgiou is tired of her bullshit. The two fight, Georgiou wins, then gets zapped back to the present where Carl tells her she’s a nice person now, here’s your exit, don’t bother to write because time travel doesn’t work like that.
It is, to put it plainly, the thinnest of gruel. The writers are trying to use our investment in Georgiou’s relationship with non-evil Michael to show how the ex-Empress has softened; and I guess there’s a moderate amount of pathos in Georgiou trying, and failing, to avert a tragedy which continues to haunt her. But evil Michael isn’t our Michael. She’s barely a caricature. There’s no mystery, no suspense, in seeing her pretend to be “good” only to be “evil” again, because she exists in a ludicrous universe that makes no logical sense. Universes don’t have inherent moral qualities, but since the only reason the Mirror Universe has any appeal at all is in its nightmare-scenario version of “reality,” we have to keep pretending like it makes sense that there’s a place where most everyone is bad just ‘cause. But then, the more time various Trek shows spend on it, the more writers inevitably try and give it depth and ground it, and the more obvious it becomes that this is all a very silly idea that should’ve been retired ages ago.
Sigh. Sorry, I said I wasn’t going to do that rant again, and I meant it. It’s just, nothing that happens in the Mirror Universe matters. That’s both the fun and the downfall of it. Watching Evil Michael kill a bunch of people (well, we only see a few of the murders, the rest happen off screen) has some novelty value, but it illuminates nothing of her character, just as watching Evil Detmer sneer and then get stabbed in the neck tells us nothing about her. We’re ostensibly going through all of this to see if Georgiou really has changed, but the simple fact that she lives in the Prime Universe and hasn’t murdered anyone we liked should be more than enough. She’s gone from fascist dictator to, insult comic. It wasn’t earned, it wasn’t growth, it was simply an inevitable outcome of the writers deciding they wanted to keep the actress around longer.
That’s not even getting into the reveal that Carl is the Guardian of Forever, making this whole thing a call back to “The City on the Edge of Forever,” a classic (maybe the classic) original series episode which has Kirk, Spock, and McCoy traveling back in time to 1930s New York. It’s a great episode, and if you haven’t seen it, you should watch it, but the connection is the worst kind of fan service—it illuminates nothing, fails to effectively explain any of Georgiou’s storyline beyond “a wizard did it,” and doesn’t really have anything do with the story it’s drawing from. I guess the Guardian appears in multiple Star Trek tie-in novels, and I’m sure those are a good time, but it’s just lazy seeing it pop up here, even with the visual effect reveal. The Guardian worked in “City” because it was really just a device that allowed a story to happen; it wasn’t a being with agency, and it didn’t serve as a deus ex machina so that one person could survive temporal displacement, provided she passed a morality pop quiz.
After she succeeds in no longer being a complete monster, Georgiou returns to herself in the reality of the show. Carl tells she’s earned a chance at survival, and the “door” turns into the Guardian portal from “City;” all she has to do is step through, and it will send her back to a time when the Mirror Universe and the Prime Universe were still in conjunction. This is what Georgiou gets instead of a heroic sacrifice or a shock death: a one way ticket to irrelevance. (I mean, technically she’s dead in the “present” the second she walks through, but still.) Before she goes, she takes the time to deliver one last speech about how great Michael is, the Discovery equivalent of an exit interview.
Back on the ship, we get to see people who aren’t evil versions of themselves doing their jobs. Michael returns, and we get a scene of the cast drinking and talking about how great Georgiou was. I don’t think she talked to half of these people unless she was insulting them. It’s a strange, unnecessary tribute (especially given that she said her goodbyes to the people who had any reason to remember her last episode) that would make more sense in a longer running series, but apparently the show can never pass by an opportunity to take a victory lap, warranted or otherwise. Michelle Yeoh is a great actress, Georgiou gave her a chance to goof around for a while and get paid for it; godspeed, good luck, and I hope she enjoyed herself. Now let’s take some small comfort in realizing that we might, finally, have put the Mirror Universe behind us—and then get on with things.
- Goodbye Evil Tilly, you won’t be missed.
- I was half-expecting they’d get Lorca on for a brief appearance, but god bless Jason Isaacs, he had better things to do.
- The color inverted title sequence was cute.
- I forgot to mention the fireflies scene. Georgiou gives a monologue about how Evil Michael liked fireflies when she was younger, and Georgiou then gives her a jar full of fireflies. Under other circumstances, this could’ve been touching.
- Whole lot of capital letters in the notes this week.
- Okay, I’m assuming folks in the comments pointed this out already, but: Michelle Yeoh leaving Discovery is due to her getting a spin-off of her very own, centering on Section 31. Given the sheer number of Trek shows flooding the airways of late, and given that Section 31 isn’t my favorite Trek concept, I’m not sure I’d say I’m even cautiously optimistic. But fingers crossed, right?