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Star Trek Discovery: Vaulting Ambition

And it's episode number three set in the Mirror Universe, with a major plot twist payoff, no less. I almost can't believe they're doing this stuff.

I'm not sure what to say about Burnham's encounter with Emperor Georgiou, her dead mentor's doppelganger, except that it was cool, unexpected and unresolved. Mass murder of the Emperor's minions, except for one quivering survivor who couldn't believe his luck? Kelpian for dinner, complete with yummy stewed ganglia? (That wasn't Mirror Saru that Burnham chose for dinner, was it? Please tell me he's safe cleaning Burnham's bathtub back on the Shenzhou?)

The first big shocker – okay, second, after what they had for dinner – was that Georgiou knew all about the existence of the prime universe, and almost immediately accepted that Burnham came from there. Of course, it makes sense that Georgiou would be ready to do anything to acquire, or reacquire, the spore drive.

But of course, the big twist this week is that Lorca is, and has always been, mirror universe Lorca. I'd actually been thinking earlier in the season that it would be really cool if Lorca was from the mirror universe, but I didn't think they'd actually do it.

It totally explained why Lorca was willing to subject himself to a lengthy stay in the agony booth in order to get to the Emperor. It totally explained Lorca's all encompassing and rule-breaking interest in Michael Burnham, too. It is positively cringeworthy that while Mirror Georgiou was a mother to Mirror Burnham, Lorca was a father to her... until he became her lover. Early on, Georgiou referred to Lorca's "vaulting ambition," the title of the episode. Big clue that all of this adventuring in the mirror universe was always about Lorca.

From the episode in which he was introduced, Lorca has been an ambiguous and possibly shady character. Everything he's done until this point now makes sense. And maybe it was a simple thing, but I absolutely loved that the giveaway was his sensitivity to light. It's the big difference between the universes, both physically and metaphorically. Burnham mentioned the difference in the light in the previous episode.

It's probably too soon to bring this up, but – is there a prime universe version of Lorca waiting in the wings, or is he dead? Did he die with his crew on the Buran? I had thought that Lorca was refusing to speak because he had no idea who Maddox's sister was. They were stringing us along until the very last second.

While Stamets meeting his doppelganger in the "network" wasn't as momentous as discovering the truth about Lorca, I thought it was a nice, albeit confusing, way to allow Stamets to say goodbye to his husband as they pretended they were in their quarters together at the end of a work day. I started to cry when Culber kissed Stamets goodbye. What was he, though? Stamets' imagination? Or does the mycelium network include the afterlife? Is this the last we'll see Dr. Culber? (Please tell me it isn't.)

Mirror Stamets was corrupt. He turned the spore drive into a neglected backyard of spore nettles that hadn't been weeded for months, endangering every life in both universes. And now he and Stamets have exchanged comatose bodies, which is just terribly confusing. Maybe that means our prime universe Stamets, who is now on the ISS Charon, will save the day somehow.

This episode's installment in the "Ash Tyler is a Klingon" story finally explained what was really going on with the poor guy. Ash Tyler did exist, but he died at the Battle of the Binary Stars. L'Rell harvested Tyler's DNA and reconstructed him as a host for her beloved heroic double agent Voq, the Klingon savior. Except that everyone knows what Tyler is now, lessening his effectiveness as the ultimate double agent.

Saru rather cleverly went to L'Rell and asked for help saving Voq's life, telling her truthfully that they were no longer in their own universe, and that Tyler/Voq was such a freaking mess that he was uncontrollably violent and causing harm to his own body. ("His own body." Except that it's not.) So L'Rell did something that seemed a bit like a Klingon mind meld, and then she screamed the Klingon death scream.

What does this mean? Is Voq dead? If he is, what is left? A genetic, altered copy of the original Ash Tyler? Whatever he is, I bet his career in Security is over.


— The imperial flagship is the I.S.S. Charon. The mythological Charon was the ferryman who carried souls to Hades.

— The information about the U.S.S. Defiant from "The Tholian Web" turned out to be useless, since using interphasic space drove the entire crew insane.

— This episode ran short: only 37 minutes. Honestly, I was so into it that I didn't notice.


Lorca: "Some people would see that glass as half full."

Tilly: "I know it's subjective, but he really does look better. I mean, just look at his skin. It's so dewy."

Stamets: "What is this? Am I dead? Is this the afterlife? Are you some sort of narcissistic Virgil leading me to judgment?"
Mirror Stamets: "Yes, Paul. You've been wrong about everything. There is a god, and she's very, very mad at you right now. (pause) I totally had you for a second there, you can't deny it. You should have seen your face. I mean... our face. That was classic."

Stamets: "It's nice to know I'm a terrible liar in every universe."

Georgiou: (re: her battered insignia) "This is from the United Federation of Planets. And apparently, so are you."

Saru: "Human versus Klingon in one body. That is war."

Wow. Not flawless, but I am really enjoying this trip to the mirror universe. Four out of four plot twists,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. Did I miss something? I thought both stamets' ended up in the right bodies. I assumed that when the stamets on charon woke up and was suprised that the other one had done it.

  2. "And now he and Stamets have exchanged comatose bodies, which is just terribly confusing." Did they really? I thought each of them returned to their own body. At the very least neither of them looked the least bit surprised about where they woke up.

  3. Clearly, I need to watch this episode again. :)

  4. I've seen this around the Internet and I think it's because when what we believe to be Mirror Stamets wakes up, he's wearing a Federation uniform... the camera pans right to reveal that we are on the ISS Charon. And it's set up to be a reveal. What we think is the Prime Universe Stamets wakes up on our Discovery and his manner is very much like our Stamets. I'm not sure the Mirror Stamets could fake that. And yes, Mirror Stamets (I think) says, "He did it"... indicating our Stamets. My take was that the tension of the reveal that Mirror Stamets is on the ISS Charon is to indicate that the Emperor already knows about and uses spore drive. In fact, I believe the Mirror Universe was ahead of the game and that's why Lorca was so so pushy about winning the Klingon war, it was simply to get Discovery up to speed to be ready when he made his play to get back to the Mirror Universe.

    But I can't explain Mirror Stamets (I assume) wearing Prime Stamets' Federation uniform.

  5. Heather1, Mirror Staments was wearing an Imperial uniform, it just had a lot less bling on it than others so looked more like the Starfleet uniform.

  6. Mark Greig, I went back and watched the scene again and I think you're right that he's wearing a Terran Empire comm badge... but the uniform wasn't the same Empire uniform he was wearing when he was in the mycelial network... it didn't have all the trappings of an empire uniform. The comm badge was hard to see, but you could be right. I sort of hope that they didn't switch. I know a lot of people on the web are hoping that they did but I'm not one of them. I think there's so much going on, not sure I could take something else. And I like Stamets. I want him to be OK.

  7. And while I was re-watching the scene, I noticed how when our Stamets came out of the coma (I will certainly assume now that it is, indeed, our Stamets) on Discovery, his reaction was very-much our Stamets. Tilly says that some things have happened. I really don't think that Mirror Stamets would have assumed she was attempting to tell him about Culber and that he wanted to be kind and let her know gently that he already knew but that there were things to be done. I do not think Mirror Stamets would have had that reaction. I think Mirror Stamets would also have smirked at seeing Tilly in obviously such an emotional, friend-like, worried state. He wouldn't have been able to help himself. He would have known about Terran Empire "Captain Killy" and would have laughed. Man... this series is delightful! And I must say... so beautiful to look at!

  8. I also wonder if a cliff hanger for the season will be that Michael stays behind in the Mirror Universe in a deal with Lorca to send Discovery back home.

  9. Lovely review Billie!

    It's complicated and confusing but I'm loving it.

    Still waiting for my Borg mirror universe though...:-)

  10. Isn;t it wonderfull when a series confirms so many fan theories? :) A lot better then subverting everything for the sake of subverting.

    As for Lorca, for me all the cast I need on the show are Michael, Tilly, Stamets and Saru, so Lorca can be the Big Bad and off the show when the season ends. Just make it memorable. :)

  11. Wow! That was SOME reveal! My jaw dropped! Loved it!

    Like you said, everything Lorca has done makes sense now. Even the fact that his lover - the admiral in our universe - at one point said that he'd changed, didn't she?

    I would assume that our Lorca is dead, by the hands of mirror-Lorca.

  12. My impression is that both versions of Samets are where they should be.


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