Warning: This contains spoilers for Episode 13 of Star Trek: Discovery. Not caught up? See our spoiler-free review of the series’ opening episodes here.
Wow. Discovery delivers a near-as-dammit perfect episode that perfectly encapsulates why this show works. Its core elements – mirror universes, spore-drives and aliens with bumpy heads – keeps long-term Trekkies/Trekkers hooked (although die-hard detractors are still banging on about the Klingons’ faces), but the improvements in the special effects, the fast-paced and expertly executed plotting, and the bone-crunching violence is also drawing in a whole new audience.
So, this week we bid farewell to the Mirror Universe, which, enjoyable as it’s been, is something of a relief – getting the show bogged down there would have been a misstep. Happily, the writing team are cannier than that and deliver an astonishing finale to this segment of the series. Even better, they make it clear that the dreaded space shroom spore drive is never going to work, which means we never have to hear about that frankly ludicrous idea again. And continuity bores will be happy that this explains why Kirk et al. aren’t zipping around the cosmos.
Following straight on from last episode’s revelation – that Captain Lorca is, in fact, a thoroughly bad egg from the Mirror Universe (an ion storm interfering with an energiser signal flung him into our universe) – we see him stage a coup. A bloody coup at that, as we’re treated to some of the best battle scenes ever seen in the franchise. The corridor fire-fight is tense in the extreme, and the hand-to-hand showdown in the throne room sees the sort of combat choreography that all other iterations of Trek could only dream of. Plus – Michelle Yeoh, reminding us of her martial arts skills.
While Burnham runs around saving the day on the ISS Charon, back on Discovery, Saru seems ever more comfortable in the captain’s chair, even getting a Captain’s Log moment – something we’ve not seen much of this series. Could Saru continue in his role? On this evidence, the answer is yes.
There’s some glorious technobabble, too, as Tilly and Stamets devise a way for the Discovery to blow up the Charon’s energy sphere, and, going into warp at the crucial moment, navigate themselves back to our parallel. That the plan works was never really in doubt, but the events that occur as it’s being implemented are where the real meat of the episode is. Not only is Lorca thrown into the centre of the sphere, where his molecules will no doubt be scattered throughout the mycelial network, enabling him to reform and return at a later date, but Burnham’s decision to save Mirror Georgiou and beam her back to the Discovery is great storytelling. As an incredulous Georgiou says: “What have you done to me?” The audience, as one, will be tuning in to find out.
And they’re not done with us yet. The Discovery is back in our universe, yes, but they’ve overshot by nine months. And the war is over. The Klingons have won. Brilliant, brilliant stuff, although we can hear the gnashing of continuity bores’ teeth now. Chill out, guys – the Discovery team know what they’re doing. Trust them. Space shrooms, aside, they haven’t let us down so far.
Star Trek: Discovery is available on Netflix UK, as part of £7.49 monthly subscription. New episodes arrive every Monday, within 24 hours of their US release.