Netflix UK TV review: Star Trek: Discovery: Season 3, Episode 9
Too much Georgiou5
Mirror Universe... again6
Kelvin Universe geekery8
Ian Winterton | On 12, 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.
Star Trek: Discovery takes an unexpected side-step into the Mirror Universe for what turns out to be the first of a two-part story. The set-up is among the clunkiest Discovery has ever served up, as creepy interrogator/medic/shrink Kovich (David Cronenberg) returns, albeit briefly. It would be good to see him given more to do, but here he’s only required to deliver a chunk of exposition, telling Georgiou that her condition has been seen before, in a time-travelling alien from another universe – the result of molecules straining to return to the time and dimension in which they were formed.
Much though Engineer Scott would have us believe otherwise, Star Trek breaking the Laws of Physics is par for the course – it’s the space opera story that counts. And on this score Episode 9 of Season 3 is moderately successful, although it’s hardly going to go down as a classic. The clunky set-up continues as the Sphere Data conveniently pinpoints a planet that – for some reason – holds the cure to Georgiou’s ailment. There, she and Michael discover a cigar-smoking chap in a bowler hat and tweed, who sits on an armchair in the snow before a door. (Could he be some omniscient super being like Q?) It’s all very The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – which strikes a very strange tone for Trek.
But, as we by then can guess, Georgiou steps through the door and into… the Mirror Universe. It’s not concurrent with the Prime Universe, but back slightly in time to a point before Georgiou was forced to kill treacherous Mirror Mike. We don’t know by episode’s end whether this is taking place in reality or Georgiou’s mind, but the psychological implications are clear: has Georgiou’s time among Starfleet changed her moral compass? The answer is, simply, yes, judging by the fact that she saves Mirror Saru – the tensions between them nicely set up earlier in the episode – from being eaten, and is then unable to execute Michael.
Georgiou is still ruthless, slaying Mirror Stamets (in self-defence), but she seems to be trying to convince herself as much as Michael when she says: “Don’t mistake growth for weakness.” And the episode ends with the brilliantly camp “Take her to the agonizer!”, meaning Mirror Michael may yet come to a sticky end at Georgiou’s hands.
Unlike Season 1’s prolonged trip to the Mirror Universe, this feels more silly and throwaway, as it did during Spock and Kirk’s first trip to the land where a goatee beard is a sign a person is evil. It’s still vaguely fun seeing Discovery’s crew in shiny armour, but they all seem to have a one-note way of expressing their dastardly nature – a raised eyebrow and a smug pout – that gets boring pretty quickly.
With a few scenes early on setting up unresolved storylines – Stamets being fatherly to Adira, who’s still missing her dead boyfriend, and Prime Saru’s grudging respect for Emperor Georgiou – here’s hoping there’s a bit more crossover from the Prime universe into the Mirror world. And, although there’s no hint of it yet, could it be that part of the clue to the source of The Burn lies in the Mirror Universe? Or is this going to be a standalone adventure in which Georgiou realises she prefers Starfleet to the Empire and, even though she’ll be ill and dying, will embrace life with Prime Michael – setting herself up for a heroic and tearful death come season’s end…?
It’s an amusing enough episode, but seems an unwelcome detour away from Season 3’s main business of solving the mystery of The Burn. Georgiou is not a particularly interesting character, and – whisper it – Michelle Yeoh isn’t as good at acting as she is fighting, making a story centred on her somewhat heavy-going. It’s passable, but Part 2 will have to pull out all the narrative stops to make this adventure more interesting.
This episode does, however, partially redeem itself with some exceptional fan service, tying the events of the JJ Abrams movies in to the TV show. The Romulan starship we saw in the 2009 movie manned by Eric Bana (and ultimately disintegrating Vulcan in that timeline) is mentioned explicitly – causing a rift between universes (not the Mirror one, but the one unofficially known as the Kelvin Universe) through which the long dead temporal warrior travelled. Or something. Either way, it’s the sort of deliciously intricate geekery that makes Trek so much fun – and now we can speculate that, just as Leonard Nimoy’s Spock crossed over into the Kelvin Universe, perhaps the crew of the Discovery could find themselves meeting Kirk, as played by Chris Pine. Maybe in the recently announced fourth cinematic outing. Oh, that this episode had been anywhere near as exciting as that prospect…
Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 to 3 is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.