Netflix UK TV review: Star Trek: Discovery: Season 3, Episode 10
Mirror Universe intrigue8
THE GUARDIAN OF FOREVER!9
Ian Winterton | On 20, Dec 2020
Warning: This contains spoilers. Not caught up with Star Trek: Discovery? Read our review of the last episode here. New episodes arrive on Fridays within 24 hours of their US broadcast.
“Even the darkest night will end – and the sun will rise. Come back to me, daughter.”
So intones Emperor Philippa Georgiou, laying out a satisfyingly clear goal for both her and the episode’s narrative. She’s speaking to her adopted daughter Michael Burnham who, following her treachery last week, has been placed in the agoniser – with the aim of torturing her until she once again swears allegiance to her Emperor-Mother.
Yes, we remain in the Mirror Universe of the 23rd century, following on directly from last week’s somewhat patchy episode in which Georgiou, facing bodily decay at a cellular level, was sent through to her home universe to… well, that becomes clear by episode’s end.
With all the clunky set-up out of the way, this week’s narrative is clearer, and proves a decent – though still imperfect – swan song for Georgiou from Discovery, as well as an intriguing set-up for the much-mooted Georgiou spin-off.
Most of the episode is spent dealing with the fallout from Georgiou’s decision last episode not to – as she had done previously – execute Michael on the spot. Hence, she – and, unknowingly, everyone else – is living in an uncharted future. We’re treated to the familiar camp joys of Mirror Universe – different viewers’ tolerance for how many times they can see our cast do an evil smirk will vary – but at least we have the strong backbone of a story to carry us through. The stakes are high – in a way, it’s a battle for Georgiou’s soul – and the writers deliver up some good twists.
Best of all, we’re expertly wrong-footed when it appears Georgiou’s goal of turning Michael – and therefore perhaps reforming the entire Terran Empire along Prime Universe Federation lines – is realised. But Michael, albeit changed a little, still reverts to type, and Georgiou is forced to plunge a massive sword through her daughter’s body (an image reminiscent of Prime Universe Georgiou’s death in Season 1, Episode 2 at the hands of Klingon warrior-messiah T’Kuvma).
And, as she bleeds out in the Mirror Universe, Georgiou finds herself back in the snow on remote planet Dannus V, a relieved Michael – our Michael – kneeling over her. With them, as last week, is “Carl”, the mysterious cigar-smoking Victorian gent who reveals, in booming voice, that he’s “THE GUARDIAN OF FOREVER!”
If you thought the vocal effects made Carl sound all 1960s and spacey, you’d be right – as the Guardian is a returning character from classic Trek. Last encountered by Captain Kirk in the year 2267 in the episode The City on the Edge of Forever, he’s part of an impossibly ancient race who have knowledge of many different realities, and dwelled on a planet where all the Galaxy’s possible realities and universes converged. This is still essentially the case, although the writers have thrown in some extra detail re the Temporal Wars (a conflict that made up much of Star Trek: Enterprise’s running time).
Georgiou has apparently experienced three months in the Mirror Universe while only being unconscious a minute, which was all part of a test. “You were being weighed, tested…” says Carl, and she’s passed with flying colours. Although Georgiou ended up killing Michael, she at least tried another way. And a subplot involving Mirror Saru – to whom she reveals that vahar’ai is not a life-ending madness as they’ve been told, but an essential stage of Kelpien development – means she has extra brownie points.
As a reward, and to save her life, Carl opens up a portal in a megalith – identical to the one seen by Kirk – that leads back in time to a point before the Prime and Mirror Universes converged. When that will be remains to be seen, but it’s an intriguing way to kickstart Georgiou’s adventures beyond Discovery.
The farewell between Michael and Georgiou is effectively moving – both have spent three seasons working back to a lost mother-daughter relationship. As Michael says to the crew when toasting the “deceased” Georgiou, she was: “A mirror I never knew I needed… a mother, almost… a sister, almost… and I loved her.” It’s a lovely piece of writing, delivered brilliantly by Sonequa Martin-Green.
What would have been a great episode is still marred, as was last week’s, by unwelcome intrusions from the ongoing storyline. Surely the painfully incremental plot developments – involving Adira, Stamets and Book becoming an essential part of the crew – could all have waited until next week? Still, with Georgiou now moved on, the writers can concentrate fully on taking us forward – and answering still, ahem, burning questions regarding The Burn and the stranded Kelpien starship. This diversion to the Mirror Universe wasn’t all bad, but it will be great to get Discovery back on course.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 to 3 is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.