Star Trek: Discovery – What’s Past is Prologue

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Star Trek Discovery What's Past Is Prologue

The Mirror Universe part of the season is over – and it got an awesome send-off!

I loved this episode, with a couple of reservations. But the pacing, the action, the characters… they all worked better than almost any previous episode.

The Plot

The episode was tightly focused on two plots, which could have made for a very short episode, or one that needed padding out. But seeing the two sides of the coup, Lorca directing his troops and Michael working with Georgiou against him, helped to build up the episode.

Meanwhile, over on the Discovery, Saru established himself as the new captain and inspired the crew to a triumphant return home.

Both stories built naturally and steadily to the climaxes, and there was a genuine sense of accomplishment that the crew had achieved their goal.

The action was also exciting and well-directed. It helps when you have Michelle Yeoh on the team, of course. But the ship combat sequence was also done well. And yet, my favourite part of the show was what they did with the characters.

The Minor Characters

One of the disappointments of the series for me has been the lack of attention paid to the bridge crew. When I watched the first couple of episodes and saw the crew on the Shenzhou, I looked forward to seeing more of them and getting to know them. Since then, however, the focus has been on the main cast.

This week, we at least got a few moments with some of the other crew. Detmer got to actually pilot the ship for once. I found out Airiam’s name (which I may just have missed before, but felt like a milestone) and she made a contribution to the episode. I didn’t find out Owosekun’s name and had to go looking for it, and her main impact was for her mirror counterpart to die- but at least the actress got something to do.

It’s not much, but at least it’s progress.

Saru

Saru came into his own here. In many ways, he’s the character who seems to have developed the most over the series. From the timid advocate of retreat arguing against Burnham in the first episode, to the captain ordering an attack on a vastly more powerful ship and refusing to abandon Michael, his progression has almost always seemed measured, steady and believable.

Doug Jones has given an amazing performance all season, especially given the restriction of the prosthetics he has to work beneath. But here he filled Lorca’s chair in the wake of his departure, and made Saru perhaps one of the best Starfleet captains we’ve seen.

I hope that both the character and the actor will continue to shine in the future.

Lorca

Oddly, one of the slight let downs of the episode for me was Lorca himself. Given that this was presumably the last that we’ll see of him, it would have been nice for him to get a bit more of the spotlight, particularly with the revelation of his origin last week.

I suppose that we’ve seen the real Lorca from the beginning and so we didn’t need to see Jason Isaacs reinvent the character to fit what we now know. But it didn’t feel as though he got quite the send-off that he deserved.

From the anti-heroic captain of the early series, here he just slipped into true villain mode, leading his rebellion to initial success followed by swift defeat and death. He should have got a more epic downfall, rather than seeming to be brought down in half an hour by his affection for Michael.

The Rest of the Cast

On the other hand, this was, ironically, a great send off for Michelle Yeoh as Georgiou, getting to kick arse in style, despatch Lorca and then go down fighting- only for her to be rescued at the last moment. I hope that the producers have a decent plan what to do with her now that is at least as good as this would have been.

Sonequa Martin-Green gave her usual competent performance as Michael, and showed both her pain at letting down another version of her mentor and her anger at having been manipulated by Lorca. She felt a little less important to the plot than in other episodes- she ran away from Georgiou just so that she could find her again and take her back to the throne room. But she got a couple of action moments, and if she took a back seat for once, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Stamets and Tilly got to work together to solve the big problems of getting home and saving all life in the multiverse, and the change here was Stamets seeming to develop a new level of respect for Tilly, letting her take credit for the solution. Tilly also seemed more confident after performing as Captain Killy recently and saving Stamets last week.

As a side note, I was a bit disappointed to see her return to her usual hairstyle towards the end of the episode. Apart from personally thinking that the sleeker style suited Wiseman better, I thought it might have served as an expository hairstyle change for a more self-assured, and less rambling, Tilly.

The Bad Points

Unfortunately, Rekha Sharma’s return as Landry was another let down as the character just got to show that she was still devoted to Lorca and then die again.

There were a couple of plot points that came from nowhere and went straight back there. Mirror-Stamets bioweapon killed some people and wasn’t mentioned again and could just as easily been another shootout – in fact the only reason for it to be mentioned seemed to be expressly to avoid another fight scene.

Michael just knowing where Georgiou would be hiding seemed odd, given that our Burnham had no prior knowledge of the Charon’s layout. There was an implication that Lorca must have briefed Michael on where Philippa’s sanctuary was, but if he knew, why hadn’t he already attacked it?

And then there were the Star Wars allusions, which just distracted from the plot of a pivotal episode. I thought I was being over-sensitive to begin with, hearing Vader overtones when Lorca said, ‘Your lack of vision continues to disappoint me.’

But when the plot requires our heroes to disable a shield so they can fly through a larger vessel with weapons capable of destroying a planet, while the villain falls down a bottomless pit into its power source after a sword fight in the throne room… you’re passing through homage and coming close to copyright infringement.

Another New Beginning

Overall though, as I said at the start, the Mirror Universe saga came to a very satisfying ending.

And we’re left with another change in the status quo of the series as the crew return to their own universe, but nine months adrift from where they began, facing a galaxy where the Klingons have apparently destroyed the Federation.

This does seem to confirm that the whole series is away from the original Star Trek timeline, which leads you to wonder whether they’ve just dressed up a new series in Star Trek iconography.

But you know what? At this point, I’m willing to trust that the producers have a plan to reconcile this, whether it’s Discovery ending up back in time and changing the past to match the original chronology, or being chased out of their own universe and into the main Trek canon.

The story that they’ve told so far has earned at least that much faith from me.


Steve Harper

Steve works full-time for the NHS and tries not to spend too much of his day plotting out his series of vampire novels. Away from the office, he divides his time between playing games where he is a vampire, playing games where he hunts vampires, and playing with Lego (he has numerous Lego vampires).

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