Star Trek Discovery: What's Past is Prologue

"Make the Empire glorious again."

Well, I certainly didn't see that coming.

This Mirror Universe arc has produced some of Discovery's strongest episodes and 'What's Past is Prologue' may just be the show's best yet. We could probably debate until the cows come home over whether or not it was, at its core, truly Star Trekian, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it was a damn good piece of television.

In my review of 'Context is For Kings' I speculated that Lorca, as well as being a potential Dark Wizard, could potentially end up being the real villain of this entire series. And I was right (*self five*), although he wasn't the real villain for very long. I figured that Lorca would die. After last week''s reveal there was no way he could continue to be a regular presence on the show, not without credibility being stretched to beyond breaking point. But I didn't think he would go this quickly, only one episode after we found out he was really evil. In the words of Ron Burgundy, "Boy, that escalated quickly". So Lorca is dead. Like really, really dead. He got stabbed through the heart by the Emperor and then fell into the reactor and got atomised. I'm no doctor, but I don't think he is going to be able to just walk that off. I'm sort of sad to see him go. Not because I had any real affection for the character, mainly because it means that Jason Isaacs is no longer part of the series, and that is damn shame because he is gift to humanity and his absence is going to be deeply felt.

With no further need to play nice, Lorca went full Zhao in this episode. If you don't understand that reference, stop reading this review and go watch Avatar: The Last Airbender right this second. I'm a little disappointed that Lorca went from being an interesting, morally ambiguous character to a fairly one dimensional evil racist megalomaniac. The Trump comparison was a little on the nose, and not entirely accurate since Lorca's clearly a competent evil racist megalomaniac who doesn't surround himself with useless sycophants and base all his decisions on what he saw on Fox & Friends that morning. Then again, he has a really creepy thing for his daughter so the comparison wasn't entirely inaccurate.


With Lorca now sleeping with the red shirts there's an empty captain's chair on Discovery and I do hope that Saru is the one to fill it. Not only did he prove to be an effective and inspiring leader during this time of crisis, he delivered one of the best speeches any Star Trek captain has given to their crew. Tilly wasn't the only one who was on the verge of tears. It was so good that it now sits atop Saru's bio on Memory Alpha because the mods on that site clearly know greatness when they hear it.

As great as that speech was, though, I don't think it would've worked as well as it did if Discovery hadn't already done a great job in establishing that the crew was more than just the main characters and a bunch of random extras. Sure, the likes of Keyla, Joann, Airiam, and Rhys might not have had as much screentime as we'd like, but we recognise them, we know them, we even like some of them and hope they get more development in season two. So when Saru talks about having a team he trusts, it carries more weight than it would've done if he'd only been talking to Tilly, Stamets and a load of nameless nobodies.


Was it right for Michael to save the Emperor? I totally get why she did it. Michael failed to save one Georgiou and couldn't bear to see another one die. But was this Georgiou really worth saving? After all, this is still the woman who ruled the fascist Terran Empire with an iron fist for many years, crushed all resistance without mercy, and ate Kelpians for dinner. Yeah, she maybe wasn't as bad as Lorca, but Emperor Georgiou is still in no way a good person. All they've done is trade a would be evil tyrant from another universe for an actual evil tyrant from another universe. What are the show's plans for Georgiou going forward? Besides, I hope, more bloody awesome fight scenes.

That final fight was pretty awesome, huh? Took them 13 episodes, but the producers finally took full advantage of the fact they have Michelle 'bleedin' Yeoh on their show. You don't cast an action star of her calibre and then not have her kick as much ass as possible. Did you see how she just kicked away that knife like it was nothing? That is the closest I have ever come to having a religious experience while watching Star Trek. I know it's highly unlikely that this Georgiou is going to replace Lorca as captain, but I do hope they keep her around for as long as possible. I don't think my life will be complete until I have seen Michelle Yeoh beat the shit out of every bad guy the Trek universe has to offer.

Notes and Quotes

— I'm going to bet ten bars of gold pressed latinum that time travel will be used to resolve that humongous cliffhanger.

— Like the previous episode, this one's title comes from Shakespeare. "What's past is prologue" is a phrase from Act 2, Scene 1 of The Tempest.

— It was nice that it was Hugh who helped Stamets find the path home, but I'm still bitter about them killing him off.

— All the Ash/Voq drama has been put on hold for a week.

— So what was with the spore that landed on Tilly?

— It wasn't until Tilly and Stamets were coming up with a solution to save the ship that I realised how much I have actually missed hearing Star Trek technobabble on TV. There really is nothing quite like it.

— Since Kelpien is a delicacy in the Mirror Universe, does that mean Lorca made Saru his XO because he was eventually planning to eat him? Maybe best not to think about such things.

— We spent four episodes in the Mirror Universe and not one single Ferengi was killed.

— We met Mirror Landry, who was one of Lorca's followers. And died. Again. She has no luck in any universe.

— I think I am going to miss Jason Isaacs' tweets most of all.


Saru: "It is well known that my species has the ability to sense the coming of death. I do not sense it today. I may not have all the answers; however, I do know that I am surrounded by a team I trust. The finest a captain could ever hope to command. Lorca abused our idealism. And make no mistake, Discovery is no longer Lorca’s. She is ours. And today will be her maiden voyage. We have a duty to perform, and we will not accept a no-win scenario. You have your orders. On your way.”
Crew: "Aye, captain."

Michael: "We would've helped you get home. If you had asked. That's who Starfleet is. That's who I am. That's why I won't kill you now."
Emperor Georgiou: "But I will."

Lorca: "Hello, Pippa. Did you miss me?
Emperor Georgiou: *Kill Bill sirens*

Three and a half out of four Zhaos.
--
Mark Greig is super serious about all of you watching Avatar: The Last Airbender. I will hold your loved ones hostage if I have to. More Mark Greig

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Having Lorca die so soon seemed like a waste. I mean you have Jason Isaacs for a while reveal he's a villain and then just kill him off next episode. Lame. I mean what's the point of having a twist like that if you're not gonna have the long-term consequences felt. Sure their probably be a dynamic shift but other than that it feels kind of hollow (it would have been nice if their had some shades of grey to his actions or something). Similar issue with the Voq/Tyler twist (though maybe we'll get a bit more of that in the last two episodes of the season). Agents of SHIELD definitely did their equivalent twist a lot better than Discovery has in this season.

Also this is kind of nitpick-ey but I kind of always assumed that what happened in Mirror Mirror was that the crews consciousnesses got switched around during that ion storm accident. That's why our Prime Universe characters were wearing the Mirror uniforms and vice versa. But apparently that's not what happened with Lorca. Again nitpicking but it didn't seem to match up.

Also the whole "end of the multiverse" plot seemed a bit out of left field and not necessary. Plus while this was one of the more entertaining episodes in some ways it's a tad annoying that like ep9 the thrust of the plot was pretty much having to blow up some ship after Micheal takes down the shields or security field thing.

I would be cool with Saru being the Captain. Doug Jones has definitely brought a lot to the role. Even if the writing hasn't always given him the most he brings the most out of it. And hail Memory Alpha for their efficiency.

Also probably worth noting that DS9's second episode (sometimes its the third) was called Past Prologue (and was the introduction of Garak).

Yeah that green spore was awfully suspicious. Few on AV Club seemed to bring it up (though maybe now there's more comments?)

Billie Doux said...

Yes, it was maybe over a bit soon, but how could they possibly resist not bringing prime universe Lorca into the series somehow? Maybe not this season, but I'm willing to bet we'll see him again.

I really enjoyed these mirror universe episodes. The fight between Lorca and the Emperor was terrific, and it made perfect sense, given what has come before (the past is prologue) that Burnham would be unable to let Georgiou die. Although what can they possibly do with her? She's a vicious dictator, a brutal killer, and she eats Kelpians. She's not going to be able to step into the prime universe Georgiou's life in any way, shape or form.

Wonderful review, Mark. Although I'm feeling a bit uneasy since I've never seen Avatar: The Last Airbender. :)

Patryk said...

Mark, I hope You are not advising to watch the M Night version. That would be torture akin to the boxes the Terrans use.

Prime Lorca I need You. Don't worry Michelle Yeoh is a special guest star the emperor will kick the bucket too and soon. ;)

Mark Greig said...

M Night version? I know not of this thing you speak.

Juan Alberto Roche Rodríguez said...

Good review Mark!
You are right, they killed Lorca way to soon. He was a great character and Isaac a great actor and they kind of wasted him. I feel like we never got a real sense of his intentions or a real background on his character. What happen on the Buram? Why he betrayed Pipa?
I still have hopes that they will bring prime Lorca into the scene. And who knows maybe mirror Michael. Now that would be interesting, specially with the empress on this side now!

I didnt catch that little green spore on Tilly shoulder on my first watch. Thanks for making me notice. What was that all about? They better no kill her o transform her in some kind of tardigrade. I will riot!

Poor Stamet, he didnt got to meet a mirror Hugh as I was hoping :(

Im all 100% on board for captain Saru!

And for last, please, please, pleaaaassseeee, PLEASEEEE!!!! Review Avatar The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra!!! I always thought that this site could review some cartoon shows, there are some good and interesting ones out there that are not just for kids. What better way to star that the masterpieces and greatests cartoons of all times. (No preasure). Pleaseeee!!!!

Thanks for the review as always! Very insightful. Peace.

Henrik Bennetter said...

A thought about Michael saving Georgiou: because, yes, she couldn't bare watching her die/being the reason for her death again but also - maybe - to get as much information out of her about the mirror universe as possible, to help the UFoP in our/their universe?

I say "their" universe, since I'm not really sure if it's the canon universe.
It still feels too un-Trek-y for it to be the same place as TOS, TNG, DS9 and so on.

Looking forward to watching the rest of the season.