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Star Trek Discovery - What's Past is Prologue - Review: "Escape from the Mirrorverse"

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Star Trek: Discovery 1.13 "What's Past is Prologue - Review:
Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi & Written by Ted Sullivan

Star Trek: Discovery might just have the strongest first season of any Star Trek show, or at least, any Star Trek first season that I've seen. It's turned out to be better than the first season of The Next Generation, but also Deep Space Nine, and granted - both those shows turned into something great later on, but even the most hardcore Trek fan can't argue that they have really shaky starts. Which is why it's so incredibly refreshing that Star Trek: Discovery has turned out as awesome as it did, with What's Past is Prologue not only giving us one of the best episodes of the year so far, but also providing us with a great conclusion to the Mirrorverse storyline and a fitting send-off for Jason Isaacs' sinister Gabriel Lorca.

The show itself has been firing on all cylinders and speeding through plot like there's no tomorrow. The episode picks up from where we left off, with Lorca releasing all his fellow allies from captivity, including - surprise, surprise - a return of Battlestar Galactica's Rekha Sharma, playing the mirrorverse version of Ellen Landry, who was killed all the way back at the beginning of the season in the main universe. So it was refreshing to see her character appear again, as such a staunch supporter of Lorca's regime. Half of me had kind of hoped that Lorca's rebellion was the Rebel Alliance to Georgiou's Empire, and that Lorca would be fighting for a good cause, but no, he's just as evil as Georgiou is, planning to substitute her reign of terror for his reign of terror. The former Captain of Discovery wastes no time in capturing the ship and ousting Georgiou as a failed Emperor, with the assistance of the mirrorverse Stamets, who has escaped from his own universe and is able to help unleash a virus that helps take out most of the soldiers loyal to Georgiou.

Meanwhile, caught in the middle of the war between different versions of her former Captains, Michael finds herself stranded in a Die-Hard esque situation of her own desperately trying to signal the Discovery, which is heading towards the Emperor's flagship at warp speed none the wiser about Lorca's betrayal. She's able to get a signal through to the Discovery to warn them that Lorca has been lying to them all along. Michael quickly gets Saru up to date on the situation and the crew of the Discovery don't need much convincing once all the patterns fall into place. But a bigger issue is at hand than Lorca's rebellion, in the form of the corrupting mycelial network that is a result of Evil Stamets' own ambitions. This represents a threat to both universes, and so naturally, the stakes are higher than ever - as the Discovery gears up for a suicide mission that focuses on their attempt to destroy the energy ball and thus prevent the corruption from destroying both universes in the process.

However, first Michael needs to take down the shields protecting the energy ball and to do that she need the help Emperor Georgiou. I have to say, I'm really enjoying having Michelle Yeoh back on this show especially in her new role. She's another wildcard addition to the series, and seeing her teaming up again with the Michael that we know for one more mission created a really nice dynamic between the two characters. In order to destroy the shield however they need to get to the throne room, which is occupied by Lorca and his group, who have just executed evil Stamets after he had outlived his usefulness to Lorca. The show subverted expectations here, as I was half expecting Lorca to actually take evil Stamets out by sending him into the energy ball, but it turns out that it was all the more fitting for Lorca to dispatch of him randomly, cold and calculated, despite all the build-up about destiny in the speech beforehand.

Michael decides that the best way to get to the Throne Room is to turn herself into Lorca and give him exactly what he wants - her, by his side. She presents him Georgiou as a peace offering, and promises that she'll stay by his side if he lets the crew of the Discovery go unharmed. This paved way to a tension-filled scene between the crew of the Discovery and Lorca's new regime, where the standoff had me wondering which side was going to bite first. If we are to believe that he genuinely cares about the crew of the Discovery, Lorca's speech to Saru and the crew was a rather effective and sincere moment at least, and reminded us of just how brilliant Jason Isaacs can be on this show. It was also interesting for Michael to point out that if Lorca had come clean to Starfleet and told them who he really was, they would have knowingly helped him, and he didn't have to betray them like that. But like Georgiou, Lorca believes Starfleet's peaceful ideology to be misplaced, and strength through force is the only approach he believes will be successful. The Terrans are also supremely egotistical, and Michael uses that to her advantage, as Lorca doesn't take into the fact that Michael is going to betray him until it's too late.

And then we get a short fight sequence around the Throne Room, Michael and Georgiou versus Lorca and his followers. The battle ends with Michael and Georgiou victorious, and just after Michael is able to declare that she won't kill Lorca, Georgiou stabs him in the back and tosses him into the mycelial energy ball. This was a rather brutal and calculated moment from Georgiou, and it's almost kind of disappointing to see Lorca killed off this early, especially so soon after his betrayal was revealed. But if we're losing Jason Isaacs and gaining Michelle Yeoh as a regular presence, then I'd say it's definitely deserved, as I really did like the last minute bait and switch about Georgiou's sacrifice only for her to be saved by Michael. She's not going to take too kindly to being dragged into a foreign universe against her will.

The Discovery is of course able to get home, riding the wave of the explosion from the energy ball and Stamets' directions, who uses the help of Hugh's memory to guide them back to their Earth. It left me wondering whether Discovery had burned through its plot all too quickly and I was wondering what there would be left to cover in the last two episodes. And then, Discovery proved me wrong by throwing us with another curve, the crew had, whilst landing in the right universe, arrived several months ahead of schedule, finding out that the war against the Klingons had taken a very different direction to what they ever could have expected, their worst fears realised. Starfleet is no more, and the Klingons have apparently wiped them off the map completely.

This cliffhanger could have easily been how the season could have ended, leaving us having to wait until Season 2 to explore the Klingons' New Empire. But instead we have two episodes left to focus on, as well as presumably more stuff to come with Georgiou and Voq/Ash in the process as both sides fight for the same body. There's also the whereabouts of Lorca from the main universe that still haven't been resolved yet, and it seems too good of an opportunity to pass up on. And who could become Captain of the Discovery now? Tilly, who held the post in the Mirrorverse? Saru, who has the position at the moment or, in the unlikeliest of choices, Michael? I haven't been too keen on Saru as Captain up to this point but he won me over in What's Past is Prologue, stepping up to deliver a pretty awesome pre-battle speech. It's safe to say that there's still plenty of questions left for Star Trek: Discovery to answer, and I'm really excited to see what the show has left to throw at us next.

What did you think of What's Past is Prologue? Let me know in the comments section below and be sure to check out the next episode of Star Trek: Discovery on CBS All-Access this Sunday, or on Netflix outside of the United States and Canada from Monday onwards.

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