Star Trek: Discovery has only two episodes left in its first season, but its recently concluded a four episode trip into the Mirror Universe, long a staple of Star Trek lore. Ever since the original series episode “Mirror, Mirror,” the Mirror Universe has served to show a world where all our familiar characters are corrupt and evil versions of themselves. It also allows the cast a chance to chew the scenery in the best possible way.
In the past, visits to the Mirror Universe have been fleeting, but this extended stay brought all kinds of changes to the series, proving that on Discovery, unlike some safer Trek shows of the past, pretty much anything is possible. This four episode arc was a reset button for the series creatively, but it also betrayed some of the shows weaknesses (Sonequa Martin-Green however, is never not great). Here are the highs and lows about this game changing Discovery arc.
The Captain Lorca Reveal
For all the ways that Lorca tipped off that he was not exactly a good guy, he wasn’t exactly wildly sinister either. And that’s the problem — the Mirror Universe counterparts, from the original series to Deep Space Nine, have always been over-the-top in their villainy.
Mirror Lorca showed genuine admiration for his alien first officer Saru, even though the Mirror Universe is deeply racist. He also displayed genuine moments of compassion when he didn’t need to, something totally foreign to someone from that universe. Simply put, even if he was evil, he wasn’t evil enough to be from the Mirror Universe.
The Death of Doctor Culber
For decades, fans have waited for true LGBT representation on Star Trek. And I don’t mean just little one-off episodes either, like we had on previous Trek shows; I mean a main character. So many fans jumped for joy when they announced that Discovery would have the franchise’s first LGBT couple on the series, scientist Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and his partner Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz).
But during the Mirror Universe arc, Dr. Culber was killed off, before we had the chance to really know him. Worst of all, his partner Stamets, after a few sappy visions of him, has seemingly shrugged off his partner’s death pretty fast. LGBT characters should not be immune from being killed off or having harm done to them in a story, but after waiting decades for a positive LGBT pairing on Trek…this feels like a slap in the face. Not cool, Discovery. Not cool.
The Captain Lorca Reveal
Ok, I realize I just said the Lorca reveal was a negative, but while in some ways it felt forced, there are some ways it was rewarding. Ever since Jason Isaac’s character, Captain Lorca first appeared, there was something off about him. Sure, we’ve seen “bad” Federation captains before in Trek history, but none as the commander of the actual ship. Lorca works against many of the things the Federation stood for, and frankly, is a bit of a war monger.
The show also saw his attempt to kill the Admiral who was his superior when she decided to pull him from duty, which is a pretty evil thing to do. The seeds for Lorca being from an evil alternate universe were there from the beginning, if we paid attention. Given that, this was a pretty great reveal, and the removal of Lorca allows for a far better Captain to replace him (I’m looking at you, Saru!)
The Return of Philippa Georgiou
Although it served a true story purpose, the death of Captain Philippa Georgiou of the Starship Shenzou in episode 2 of the series also felt like a bit of a waste. When you have someone with Michelle Yeoh’s talent, it seems foolhardy to remove her from the series so quickly. But now that the Emperor of the Terran Empire version of Phillipa is in the Prime Universe, it opens up a whole world of possibility. How does a ruthless dictator adjust to life in the peace loving, equality driven Federation? It’s an interesting problem the show has now, and hopefully they don’t cop out and kill her again.
It Proved This Show Is Not Afraid To Take Chances
When Discovery started, it was pretty clear this was going to be a show about a war between the Klingons and the Federation, something we’ve seen for decades now. And for the most part, it has been. But the Mirror Universe arc showed that the writers on this series are not afraid to throw the pieces up in the air when they feel something isn’t working, or when the show just needs a shot in the arm.
While it relies a little bit too much on twists (who didn’t see that “Ash Tyler is really a Klingon” twist coming from light years away?) It also gives the show an “anything can happen” vibe, which is cool for Star Trek, a franchise that for years has been stuck in its ways.
What did you think of Star Trek: Discovery’s recent journey into the Mirror Universe? Let us know your thoughts down below in the comments.
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