It may have taken us until Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 11, but the series finally managed to make me cheer out loud.
We can finally stop pretending to like Tyler and Sarek with a goatee and ... oh my god... EMPEROR GEORGIOU?!?
It may be because I never watched the Star Trek Enterprise Mirror Universe arc, but I freakin' LOVE learning about the Terran Empire.
There's something so... straightforward about a culture so completely, unblinkingly, unapologetically, TERR-ible. :)
Executions for thought-crimes. Enslaving entire species like the Kelpians to the purpose of personal groomers?
Agony chambers for prisoners. Promotions through murder. It's the handbook on how to run an efficient empire on the fuel of fear, hate, and ambition.
An oppressive regime is, by nature, a fearful regime.Saru
The only thing the Terrans can be applauded (?) for is that their command structure seems to have achieved some gender equality. It probably helps that the Emperor is a woman.
And it's such a great device to use to bring back the actors we enjoyed in Chapter One whose characters got killed. Alas, poor Connor wasn't long for the world in either universe.
Unquestionably, the singular highlight of this adventure was putting the Voq-ler storyline out of its misery. Once they'd confirmed what the Internet had whispered from the beginning, I was done done DONE with Mr. "I'll Always Protect You" and his pie-in-the-sky happy endings.
There's some irony in the fact that L'Rell was unable to break Burnham's "tether" on his humanity, but when faced (!) with his Mirror-self leading the rebel Coalition of Hope and sharing a table with Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites... well that was a bridge too far. Hate overriding ... affection, I guess.
Cleverly, the emergence of the Voq identity really answered Burnham's questions at the beginning about how deep you can disguise your true self before you give in to the charade.
Can you hide your heart? Can you bury your decency? Can you continue to pretend to be one of them? Even as, little by little, it kills the person you really are.Burnham
And using his execution to smuggle the intel on the U.S.S. Defiant to Saru? It was very convenient and reminiscent of Georgiou's tactic at the Battle of the Binary Stars to seed the Klingon bodies with warheads. A war crime that Mirror-Voq seemed to attribute to Mirror-Burnham's CV of bad acts. Butcher of the Binary Stars, indeed.
If anything in this season of Discovery will make me cry, I'm sure it'll be something to do with Stamets. I found myself in total emotional denial when he flat-lined. Thank goodness that paid off for me. And I have a feeling that Mirror-Stamets might be as awesome as Kaptain Killy.
Speaking of which, it's so gosh-darned nice that Cadet Tilly is getting a chance to show her chops in the mycelial arena (and hopefully earn that all-important recommendation to the Command Program). Still, I honestly enjoy her more when she's cussing and threatening people.
Admittedly, having Saru mentor her while she has to masquerade as the captain is an elegant way to bring the two together when their respective roles typically wouldn't intersect.
It also seems that she can better assert herself to Saru than to any other commanding officer she's dealt with so far.
Yay for personal growth.
Burnham's parley with the rebellions' leaders illustrated how the writers could juggle multiple objectives in a single scene. Besides triggering Tyler's attack on Mirror-Voq, it revealed a lot about how the Terran Empire has become a unifying agent for the rebels.
It also demonstrated how Mirror-selves aren't necessarily a simple good-evil flip. Mirror-Voq has the same motivations but more self-control and agency than Prime Voq-turned-Tyler-because-L'Rell-told-me-to.
Since Sarek is assiduously neutral in the Prime Universe, his inverse is still neutral (even with the goatee) in the Mirror Universe. It seems that logic is the perfect zero of morality. And yet, Mirror-Sarek's account of what he found in Burnham's mind is quite poetic too, which belies pure logic.
I see a world bursting with potential... a child molded by wisdom and a seemingly impossible depth of human compassion.Sarek
Ever since the Voq-ler Theory was confirmed, the Internet has moved on, and plot speculations are now Lorca-centered. I'll admit that I'd prefer that he be exactly who we think he is. It would be a bit of an eye-roller if there were ANOTHER wacky reveal before the season wraps up.
His time in the agony chambers obviously affects him and his ability to strategize effectively. While he's never been the gold standard in terms of protocols, his advice to give the command to destroy the rebel base planet was startlingly pragmatic.
We're all human here. We all start out with the same drives, the same needs. Maybe none of us, no matter what world we're from, really know what darkness is waiting inside.Burnham
My only quibble with this episode was Saru's question to Burnham about Kelpians. Considering how xenophobic the Terran Empire is, why would he even ask if a non-human was aboard the Shenzhou?
It seemed a very contrived way to get Burnham to break the oath she made to him at the end of Star Trek Discovery Season 1 Episode 5, always to tell him the truth.
I can't recommend enough to watch Star Trek: Discovery online since there are so many nuanced details and glorious little moments throughout.
Yes, they essentially ran with four DIFFERENT plot-lines, but they OWNED them. I was never unclear as to what was going on.
The big question is: What happens next?
How do you think the L'Rell-Voq reunion is going to go in the brig?
Who do you think managed to escape Harlak before the Emperor's ship blew it up? How does that affect Burnham's street cred?
What's next for Stamets? I REALLY want to hear your theories on this one!
I suspect Mirror-Saru might prove (even more) important moving forward. Thoughts?
Did anyone else find it interesting that Mirror-Detmer has had more lines in Chapter Two than in ALL of the first half of the season?
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.