Star Trek: Discovery Review: There and Back Again

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There was a moment while watching Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 13 when I suddenly imagined that this is what Game of Thrones would look like in space.

After all, suddenly we have swords and emperors and moon-doors (oh my!), and with disrupter fire all over the place, people are being zapped out of existence about as quickly as George R.R. Martin tends to off his fans' favorites.

The writers worked a lot of exposition into the dialogue, which tended to slow the pace (but they made up for it with some excellent fight scenes.)

First, we have Lorca's backstory on how he got zapped into the Prime Universe. Darned transporter malfunctions. Anyone keeping count on how many times in Trek canon, transporters have been the cause of major snafus?

Emperor Intent - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 13

What's interesting is what they leave unsaid. If the transporter malfunction switched their signatures, Prime-Lorca beamed onto the Mirror-Buran just as the Emperor's shots destroyed the ship. Presumably, Mirror-Burnham was aboard as well.

In Prime, we have Mirror-Lorca aboard the Prime-Buran. Shortly afterward, Lorca destroys the Buran with the entire crew on board.

Although, officially, he destroyed them rather than let them fall into Klingon hands as prisoners of war, now that we know who he really is, it's open to speculation why he actually did it.

Had someone noticed he was an imposter?

Was it a way to find his way onto the Discovery or to get to Prime-Burnham?

Taking a Hard Look - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 13

Then, there's the exposition that Prime-Stamets provides when figuring out how Lorca managed to bring Discovery to the Mirror Universe, explaining how he gathered the information from the series of jumps around the Klingon ship and then accessed navigation from his command seat.

It's amazing how easily Saru was convinced once Stamets provided his insights. It was also amusing how Saru thought that he would've instinctively known something was up with Lorca. I guess Kelpian ganglia aren't foolproof.

Mirror-Stamets didn't really live up to his billing, did he? Rather than the sinister genius or even a Mad Hatter, he became more of a cowardly lion, er mushroom scientist.

However, he does give us the first glimpse of the Charon's ridiculous moon-door lookalike.

The living core of the mycelial network. It's poetic justice, don't you think? Scientist destroyed by his own creation. Just kidding. I hate poetry.


Seriously, who builds a door in their throne room floor with direct access to the ship's power source core? Yeah, it's a pretty view, but wouldn't there be radiation concerns or just plain safety issues? 

Landry Sighting - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 13

You gotta feel kind of bad for Landry. Her identifying feature in both dimensions seems to be a mislaid and unswerving loyalty to Lorca. For him, Prime-Landry decides to poke the deadly tardigrade, and then Mirror-her gets physically CUT DOWN by him while she's fighting on HIS SIDE.

Prime-Stamets provides another helping of exposition later, assisted by Tilly when they run through the solution to Discovery's probable demise.

From what I understood, they basically jump-started the spore drive on the mycelial shock wave the way you pop a standard transmission car into gear by running it downhill.

Do not accept a no-win scenario.


The shield stuff, mind you, completely flew over my head.

They didn't explain very well (to me, anyway) why the main viewer screen of the Discovery's bridge could suddenly see the mycelial pathways that Stamets saw in his brain.

Imperial Bearing - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 13

Now that Lorca's secret is out, there was a major shift in the character's demeanor and interaction style. 

He got comfortable with Landry by his side and in command of all his followers. Speaking of which, wouldn't nearly two years in an agony chamber put at least a good percentage of his troops out of commission for a while?

One year, two hundred and twelve days of torture. Of agony, my friends. My followers. But I have returned to give meaning to your suffering. Today is the day we reclaim our empire.


I guess Lorca's pep talks are that good. Goodness knows, Saru's was properly inspiring, and he would've learned from his captain.

It could also be Terran training. After all, they do live a life built primarily out of fear, pain, and hate.

The Real Lorca - Star Trek: Discovery

Comfortable Lorca has more of a sense of humor. He has more of a flourish and pushes the pompous button more than once.

To me, it was Physics acting as the Hand of Destiny. My Destiny.


In his own skin again, as it were, he seems a little less sharp, a little more careless, maybe taking things for granted when vigilance was still needed.

Burnham herself tells Georgiou that he gets in his opponents' heads, out-thinks them. That being said, he doesn't do much out-thinking here beyond ambushing the Imperial guards and intuiting that Mirror-Stamets would probably hide rather than run.

He also displays a lot more vulnerability than the Lorca we're used to. His need for Burnham to join him is poignant and, although he sought her out to exploit Georgiou's sentiment, she is a weakness for him as well.

The fact that he strikes down Landry to protect Burnham is the clearest indication of how conflicted he is. Although he exudes confidence in her eventually joining him, he shows a poor understanding of both her and the Discovery crew that he claims to have "molded" into the soldiers they are.

Lorca Gets Messy - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 13

When he strides into the throne room with Mirror-Stamets and Mirror-Landry, he demonstrates the entitlement of one used to power. He even comments on Stamets' skepticism about Destiny in a very Darth-Vadery way.

Your lack of vision continues to disappoint me.


Of course, he's the one who ends up falling, Palpatine-like, into the heart of his ship.

Shortly afterward, the Discovery zips INTO the Charon's center to fire on its highly-guarded power source.

And that's when I realized that this wasn't as much Game of Thrones as it was Star Wars.

Don't take my word for it. Go and watch Star Trek: Discovery online and let me know if I imagine the references.

In the Emperor's Presence - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 13

I want to take a moment to savor the amazing job the show did with the final throne room fight. Reminiscent of the fight aboard T'Kuvma's coffin ship near the end of the Star Trek: Discovery Premiere, we once again watch as Burnham and Georgiou take on a would-be messiah/usurper and his lieutenant.

But the awesome balancing moment is Georgiou running Lorca through in a "mirror" kill to how T'Kuvma killed her. That was a stellar moment, demonstrating the series' internal cohesion. And it fulfilled her prediction from earlier when she and Lorca discussed Destiny.

Your choices have determined your fate.

Emperor Georgiou

So, although it was exciting and somewhat satisfying, this script tapped Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and then leaves us with Discovery returning to basically a "Scouring of the Shire" (a Lord of the Rings literary reference) where the Klingons have won the war and Starfleet is M.I.A. and forgets to be Star Trek.

There have been criticisms since the beginning that Star Trek: Discovery isn't "Trek-like" enough. This was the first time I had to agree. 

Where do they go now with two episodes left in the season?

Leading Her Troops - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 13

Burnham's brought Emperor Georgiou, who EATS Kelpians, onboard Saru's ship. Pretty sure the whole Kelpian-as-food-or-slave thing is going to come out. Awkward.

Could Stamets press the rewind and get them back where they need to be? If the network has repaired itself, shouldn't their forest be harvestable again?

What about Tyler/Voq and L'Rell? I don't think either Klingon thought they'd be going where they ended up when they started their plan.

What exactly do Burnham and Saru report to Admiral Cornwell regarding Lorca? I mean, if she's still alive?

Did anyone else notice how many of the regular bridge crew seemed to (finally) get their very first line of the series here? So weird.

What's Past is Prologue Review

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

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 13 Quotes

To me, it was Physics acting as the Hand of Destiny. My Destiny.


One year, two hundred and twelve days of torture. Of agony, my friends. My followers. But I have returned to give meaning to your suffering. Today is the day we reclaim our empire.