Star Trek Discovery: Vaulting Ambition

Michael Burnham faces her latest challenge – dealing with the mirror universe’s Empress Georgiou, and her conflicted feelings about encountering an alternate version of her beloved mentor. Meanwhile, Stamets explores the mycelial network with his mirror universe counterpart, and Saru struggles to deal with Voq/Tyler.

Even though the internet had already worked it out, learning that “Ash Tyler” was really Voq last week still felt like a big reveal. But Discover refuses to stop there, topping that this week with an even bigger reveal that no one saw coming – the Gabriel Lorca we’ve been hanging out with all this time is actually the evil mirror universe Gabriel Lorca. No wonder he was so morally dubious in comparison to most other Star Trek humans.

Before we get into what else happened this episode, let’s think about where all this is going. We now have not one, but two main characters whose future is in doubt. Will Voq/Tyler and mirror universe Lorca be regulars after this season? Or, like Mad-Eye Moody at the end of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, will their originals be found locked in a trunk somewhere, ready to take over from their impostor selves? Maybe Discovery is just going to go all Game of Thrones and unashamedly dispense with them as main characters. Only time will tell.

Before the big reveal, we spend a lot of this episode watching Burnham interact with mirror universe Georgiou. As someone who really liked the prime universe Georgiou, I, like Burnham, am delighted to see another version of her onscreen – but of course, my feelings about her are similarly conflicted. Burnham’s actions in the pilot caused the death of her mentor, and now she gets a second chance to interact with this brilliant and powerful woman; not only that, but in the mirror universe, Georgiou was actually her adoptive mother. It seems ideal, except for the small fact that Emperor Georgiou is also a heartless monster. She kills a room full of advisers without a second thought (pretty nifty bit of tech there too), and thinks nothing of dining on the cooked flesh of a sentient being. More ganglia, anyone?

Also of import to this episode is Stamets’ encounter with his predictably evil mirror self. This thread also includes a heartfelt goodbye between Stamets and some echo of the consciousness of Culber. Their farewell kiss is probably the most heartfelt and poignant moment of their relationship. Farewell, Hugh, we barely knew you.

Notes and Observations

  • Although it’s currently unclear exactly how mirror Stamets could have the power to corrupt and ruin the mycelial network, this could ultimately explain why the spore drive never appears anywhere else in the Star Trek universe.
  • There was indeed an original Ash Tyler whose DNA was used for the transformation of Voq into Fake Tyler.
  • In this episode, we see Voq have a moment when his Tyler personality reasserts itself. Could this be a good sign for the future?
  • I’m pleased that this episode’s title is drawn from Macbeth – both for a change from the Alice in Wonderland references, and because it’s my favourite Shakespeare play.
  • This episode reveals that there is one biological difference between the prime and mirror universes – mirror humans are more sensitive to light. Obviously this was never a thing in the TOS, DS9 or Enterprise mirror universe episodes, although arguably they were more ‘atmospherically’ lit to make the whole place seem darker and more evil. What was once thought to be an aesthetic choice might also be down to comfort.
    I’m also trying to recall if anyone turned the lighting down on the captured prime universe USS Defiant in In a Mirror, Darkly.
  • It’s amazing that mirror universe scanning devices have a “detect quantum signature” function. How often would that ever be a useful thing to have?
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