Star Trek Discovery: Terra Firma Part 1 (S3E9)

In the pilot episode of Discovery, Michael and Captain Georgiou are walking across a desert planet and in this episode we get a visual nod to that with Michael and Former-Emperor Georgiou walking across a snow bound world. The prologue to the episodes main action takes it time. We get the return of David Cronenberg as the mysterious Federation agent whose job it is to know about time wars and parallel universes. We get a nod to the Kelvin timeline and some progress on the meta-plot about the Burn.

This delay is largely a pretext to bring back the mirror universe. The return of the universe in which every shot looks like a Baen book cover, is hardly a surprise. Georgiou’s mysterious illness was clearly being set up as a way of bringing back the campy-space empire which had been some of the most fun but least Trekky aspects of Season 1.

The way back is via one of Trek’s many magical beings, a sequence which I found a bit weak. While Discovery’s nod’s to other iterations of Trek can get tiresome, it might have been fun if John de Lancie had been the guy with newspaper and magic door.

It is December, so maybe the Narnia like snowy portals is Discovery’s idea of a Christmas episode, which makes what follows Discovery’s version of “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Georgiou finds herself back in the mirror universe but also back in time. Lorca is plotting a coup and (evil) Michael is ready to betray her — events that all occurred before Season 1. Sadly, there is no Jason Isaac cameo but the rest of the cast get to dress up as Trek-but-fascist.

It’s fun but being a two-parter, it is also inconclusive. The most interesting idea here is how inherently evil the Terran versions of Discovery are. Georgiou should literally be in her element (indeed, it is her atoms rebelling that is causing her medical condition) but she finds herself in a position not unlike Captain Kirk in the original jaunt into the mirror. Her time in the not-evil dimension has taught much about the people around her and while she hasn’t become good exactly, she has become more pragmatic. Perhaps not having to spend all your cognitive effort on keeping track of who is scheming against who gives you time to think more clearly.

We will see where it all goes next week.


12 responses to “Star Trek Discovery: Terra Firma Part 1 (S3E9)”

  1. I have to admit: I liked the episode and completely lost interest the Exact moment Georgiou entered the mirror universe.
    In Season 1 I liked it somewhat, by of the Lorca twist, but here even if predictable I don’t think it fits the current theme of the show at all. Maybe I’m more for some soul comfort by of Covid lockdown, but I would have really really prefered a nice and cozy “let’s figure out the burn” episode. And it being a two part episode does not make things better.

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    • I deeply enjoy Empress Georgiou, but only after she was separated from the Terra universe and had to reconfigure her values because she’d loved her Michael and came to love the other Michael and other versions of people she knew as well. She’s what I call a black knight character and provided a mixed perspective. But my husband and I weren’t that enthusiastic about the Terra universe way back and groaned to be thrown into it again. It’s boring because it’s one note and simplistic. Everyone has the same ideology, values and violence obsession and the reality is that in humans, in authoritarian cultures, that’s not the case. Trek learned this in developing the Klingons and the Romulans parts of their universes (though Discovery then reversed a lot of the Klingon progress and had to rejigger it again.) I’m sure it’s a bit of fun for the actors and it was funny that the Sphere records popped up with a disconcerting solution for the Federations’ black badge division, but having to go through another episode of it for the two parter is not exciting for me.

      The guide to Narnia does seem to be a Q. But again I wouldn’t mind having the Q have lost interest in the humans’ part of the galaxy and moved on. The fun for us this season is having Discovery not having to play the greatest hits of Trek and instead dealing with an almost totally new space opera universe. But I am curious to see if what Georgiou does causes the Mirror universe to move closer to the Federation universe or no. They’ve definitely got a spy mystery going on as well as the Burn mystery.


      • I agree with everything you just said. I just hope Georgiou will stick around after she is healed and has discovered that mirror-Michael is not as good as Mainstream-Michael (which is probaly where they are going with this).


  2. i will be interested to see where this one goes, if only for the sake of series continuity. I assume the two-parter is by way of a dramatic send-off to Michelle Yeoh (since she has to get back for the Section 31 thing, somehow)… but I’m not sure the current sequence of events is actually going to turn out to be real. Since she’s already changed the past by offing the mirror Stamets before his time, we are looking, potentially, at yet another alternative timeline being spun off from the main continuity, and this will only get worse if she succeeds in preserving mirror Michael and her funky black lipstick, and killing Lorca before he can make his transition into the mainstream universe – in which case most of the first season of Discovery won’t happen. It’s at times like this that you can kind of see the point of the Temporal Accords and the stamping out of time travel.

    So my guess is that this is a hallucination or alternative reality administered by Carl (or possibly Qarl?), and Georgiou’s reset will be accomplished some other way. Just my guess. So probably wrong.


    • The Mirror Universe doesn’t make sense. It’s fun for a philosophical party-game: what if there were evil versions of us? What would they be like? Oooh, goatees! As soon as you start thinking about history, though, you realize that there’s no way to keep it consistent. Pick a point of departure, and a few years later the people in the other universe are killing people who in your universe go on to become engineers who invent stuff, farmers who feed people, nurses and doctors and most of all parents of people who can’t exist in the next generation of the Mirror Universe now.

      Luckily, Trek has an internally (narratively) consistent solution:

      The Mirror Universe is generated on-demand by a Q-tech holodeck.

      Anybody who originates in the MU and crosses over is a Q-produced replica of a person with implanted memories; they completely believe their own backstory.

      Now, by any sane measure, this requires time travel to get things set up right. So we have to keep time travel in order to ditch the MU. That’s fine.

      As an obvious corollary, The Guardian At The Edge of Forever is a machine set up by a Q, and anyone who offers you Tranya is probably a Q.

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