New theory: Lorca is getting the Seska arc I always wanted.
We’ve landed in the Mirror Universe, as we all suspected. I was wary going in because the MU hasn’t really landed for me past its first appearance. But I was also hopeful, because a Mirror Universe arc that spans all six remaining episodes has a lot of potential. And so far they do seem to be going for a deep dive into the concept of mirrors so I am incredibly pleased. This episode was mostly set up but it introduced some key plots and concepts and did it well.
Discovery find themselves lost in an alternate universe where the Terran Empire reigns supreme. Non-Terrans are slaves and rebels, “Killy” Tilly is Discovery’s captain, Michael is the presumed dead former captain of the Shenzhou, and Lorca the war criminal who killed her. Building off a plot from Enterprise, Michael and Lorca hatch a plan to assume their mirror lives and infiltrate the Empire in order to gain intel about a non-spore-drive way back to the Prime Universe. They can’t use the spore drive because Stamets is out of commission and babbling in sickbay.
Meanwhile, Ash’s flashbacks are increasing in intensity so he confronts L’Rell and she activates the Klingon inside. It doesn’t work the way she expected, but it messes him up enough to head to sickbay to see what they did to him. Dr. Culber discovers that he might not be Ash Tyler at all so Might Not Be Ash Tyler snaps his neck. It was horrible to watch and I have very strong feeling against the entire subplot. Shazad Latif is incredible in the role, however.
Michael successfully assumes command of the Shenzou, though she has to kill the kid who took her Mirror’s place, her former crewmate, who she watched die in the pilot. Might Not Be Ash Tyler accompanies her as her bodyguard (what happened to Mirror Ash Tyler I wonder?) and they have a terribly sweet scene about being ride or die for each other now that everything is somehow even more terrible than it was. But it is all undercut by “Ash” being A MURDERER — who also, incidentally, ate her mentor.
Finally, Lorca is installed in a torture chamber (again).
Live Long and Prosper:
The theme of the entire season is “things are not as they appear” and I believe that applies to the action in this episode. Connor came back to life (briefly) in this very episode. Stamets could very easily have magic mushroom powers. The entire season/series could be reset using the spore drive. I am certain that, though he may be altered when we see him again, Culber will return. Thematically it’s sound, and even clever, to play with the audience as much as the characters but it is definitely my one complaint with this series. It’s too clever. So clever it’s mean. I honestly love this show, but also watching it gives me anxiety.
Before Ash Tyler was introduced, I liked Voq and L’Rell. They weren’t my favorites but I found their relationship cute and I cared about their story. I was looking forward to their plot meeting up with Michael’s and Discovery’s. But then Ash Tyler was introduced, and inserted into the triumvirate with Michael and Lorca, and given a storyline about trauma and recovery. And that’s the story I want. Now, instead of a sweet, sometimes goofy, Pakistani orphan from Seattle who survived being a prisoner of war and sexual assault at the hands of his captor and has PTSD as a result we have a secret terrorist who underwent some kind of physical/mental rewrite in order to infiltrate Starfleet and… kill everyone? I have no idea what Voq actually wants to do. I also don’t care. I can’t stand the Klingons. I feel robbed of the story they sold me.
And the message I get, from the deaths and “deaths” and possessions and pretending, is don’t get attached. Don’t get invested. Don’t care about these characters. And then what’s the point?
Beam Me Up:
As with the MU in general, I was both super excited and super scared of the costuming in the AU. Enterprise’s take on the Mirror Universe uniforms instills me with RAGE but Discovery does me so proud with its badass armor, I am in love. Tilly’s comment that her mother would approve of her transformation into Captain Killy makes me cry? But it is so amazing to see her pull it off, and I love how the whole LOOK plays into that, especially the ombre blow out hair. AMAZING.
And Rebel Gabriel in black leather is almost disturbingly attractive. But on top of that it’s just a great look: he has become the darkness! The shadow!
Michael and Ash: Look, they could have sold me a Voq/Michael romance, they could even have sold me a Voq-as-Ash/Michael romance centered in their inherent identity issues. I’d be all over that to be quite honest. But they made “Ash” A MURDERER. So, no.
Michael and Lorca: There are still more questions than answers about these two, but I am very into their dynamic. Their scene together haunts me. I believe her line emphasizing that he plucked her out of prison and dropped her into this story indicates that she knows there’s more going on here than what he’s telling. But as much as he’s withholding, he also opens up to her.
I like the idea that Prime and Mirror Lorca are kinda the same reckless romantic rebel who can’t be contained by authority and has a moral ambiguity that makes him lean “bad” in Prime but “good” in Mirror. I think in that context when he says he’d hoped to find a better version of himself he’s wishing there was a purely heroic Lorca somewhere. Someone more like (Prime) Michael. Which breaks my heart. And goes a long way to explain his close personal relationship with torture.
Michael and Tilly: Tilly is spooked after her first performance as Captain Killy and walks right to Michael and Michael touches her back in comfort and they are perfect. Later Michael encourages her to find her strength in the ship-ful of people who believe in her and they are perfect.
Lorca and Tilly: I’m just saying.
Stamets and Culber: Paul is in the room when Hugh is killed and I just can’t.
Voq and L’Rell: Are no longer cute.
A Good Day to Die: Culber and Connor (again).
Next Week: SAREK HAS A BEARD