Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 9 Review: Terra Firma, Part 1

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Just in time for the holidays, Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 9 takes a swing at spinning the classic It's a Wonderful Life concept for our beloved Emperor Georgiou.

Well, to be fair, it's probably more akin to Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 6 Episode 15, "Tapestry," wherein Picard gets a chance (courtesy of Q) to go back and choose a different path. (Spoilers: it doesn't work out the way he thinks it will.)\

That being said, a trip to the Mirror Universe is always a hoot and such a great way to bring back faces like Landry and Airiam. And so much fascist-goth styling. So much.

However, if we approach Georgiou's return as an immersive psychological exercise, a lot of questions about its purpose, her choices, and "Carl" present themselves in obvious and imperative ways.

Gearing Up - Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 9

Let's talk about Carl first (because, OMG, I was so happy to see Paul Guilfoyle on my screen again -- Miss you, Brass!).

Is he a Q? Is he an A.I. holo? Is he the product of a shared hallucination between Burnham and Georgiou?

Georgiou: What the hell is this?
Carl: This is, obviously, this.

I'm leaning towards a Q-type entity since they're pretty much the only ones in the Trek-verse who are equal parts magic and snark.

Carl's a bit more helpful(?) than our usual Continuum visitor. Perhaps a distant cousin who resides on Dannus V as an oracle/spiritual guide of sorts.

Between him and Kovich (aka Man With Glasses), we seem to be spending a lot of time trying to guess the nature of old, white men.

Kovich - Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 5

That brings us to Georgiou's choices.

Before they even get to Dannus V, Kovich's recommendation to sedate and incarcerate her until they can make an argument to euthanize her seems brutal but practical.

Culber: I'll tell her what's happening.
Kovich: No, you won't. A dying Terran's basic instinct is to find a way to die in battle -- the more glorious, the better. You want to set that loose on your ship?

His prediction of her Terran inclination to seek death by provoked combat seems apparent in her active effort of trying to get Tilly or Burnham to put her down by insulting and attacking them.

Well, if it isn't Saru's walking command blunder. Find a way to kill everyone on board yet? Maybe I'll call you 'Killy' after all.


Georgiou without control of her physical and mental regulation, is a Georgiou with little to live for. And that means she'll take as many as possible with her into the afterlife.

A Farewell - Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 9

Meanwhile, there are signs that she's mellowed despite her prickliness.

She is downright respectful when Saru bids her farewell and almost kind(!) to Tilly.

Georgiou: Number One, I expect your crew may survive you after all.
Tilly: You've been good for me. Weirdly.

Once she steps through Carl's door, her choices are incredibly calculated.

If Lorca and Burnham had truly fostered rebellion on the belief that Georgiou had forsaken Terran values, this Georgiou has drifted even further off the path, much as the Mirror and Prime Universes had diverged according to Kovich's intel.

Emperor Georgiou - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 12

I'm uncertain how she's able to discern who among her troops she is actually able to trust.

Both Tilly and Owo have moments with Burnham that indicate they would've sided with the coup if there was any inkling that Georgiou was vulnerable.

Burnham: If you have something to say to me, say it.
Georgiou: You need to find better assassins.

To tap Slave Saru as her spy is not only informed by her time in the Prime Universe's Discovery but to trust that his nature remains aligned with Starfleet's Saru.

(I'd also like to know what Mirror Stamets does on the I.S.S. Discovery. Is he still a mycologist engineer? Or do they just keep him around to recite odes to the Emperor?

You Had Me at Unsanctioned Mission - Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 6

Finally, we must all agree that the doorway is not actually a time portal.

Georgiou has not traveled across dimensions and back in time.

She is reliving her past events with her current understanding and her memory of what transpired.

So, while the Terrans have always been over-the-top by nature and representation, I posit that they are extra cartoony this go-round because we are, in fact, witnessing Georgiou's memories with all their filters and biases.

Dying Georgiou - Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 9

So what is the purpose of this retooling of the past?

I suspect it has to do with Kovich's description of the condition suffered by inter-dimensional time-travelers.

Every molecule fights to either go back in time or jump a cosmic divide.


(By the way, who didn't love that thrown-in "Romulan mining ship" line? That high-pitched whoosh in the distance? That was the fandom collectively gasping at the idea that the Kelvin timeline is just another dimension now.)

Back to Kovich and Georgiou.

Georgiou in Sickbay - Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 8

If he is accurate in his assessment that the jumps in dimension and time together create too much discord with one's molecular nature, it is possible -- stick with me here -- that if Georgiou can let go of her attachment to the Terran universe, at a molecular (?) level, she'll be able to survive in the Prime.

And the thing that holds her to Terra Firma is her relationship with Burnham.

Georgiou: Now tell me what this is really about. You owe me that.
Burnham: Why? 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, can never stand on my own.

It's only a theory, and I've been wrong many, many times before.

Still, it'll be interesting to see how things play out now that she's chosen not to execute Burnham.

Looking for a Cure - Star Trek: Discovery

In other news, Vance turns out to be a pretty good leader. His advice to Saru is sound and doesn't even come across as patronizing.

Take it from an old salt who made a lot of bad calls in his day. Crew member is drowning. If we let her, your crew will never look at you or the Federation the same way again. And you will never look at yourself the same way either.


And, once again, the ship in the nebula at the origin of the Burn gets a singular scene and no follow-up. But it was kind of awesome for Saru to see another Kelpian.

(Fun fact: the actress playing Dr. Isa, Hannah Spear, also portrayed Saru's sister, Siranna, on Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 6, Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 14, and Star Trek: Short Treks Season 1 Episode 3)

Adira's issues with Gray are a bit of a sore-thumb element, which leads me to wonder if Gray's silence is more significant than it appears on the surface.

Cracking the Algorithm - Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 9

As you watch Star Trek: Discovery online (and groan when you're left hanging because two-parters should ALWAYS just air together), speculate with me on how Georgiou emerges from this psychic foray.

Does she emerge a kinder, gentler Georgiou divested of her attachments to Mirror Burnham and the relationship that might've been?

Does she kill Lorca on sight and end up having to execute Burnham anyway?

Does the mystery scene in her head play out aboard this version of the Charon? Who is she mourning?

Let's hear your thoughts! Throw them in the comments!

Terra Firma, Part 1 Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (20 Votes)

Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 9 Quotes

Culber: I'll tell her what's happening.
Kovich: No, you won't. A dying Terran's basic instinct is to find a way to die in battle -- the more glorious, the better. You want to set that loose on your ship?

Every molecule fights to either go back in time or jump a cosmic divide.