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Star Trek: Discovery - Terra Firma - P1 & P2 - Double Review: "Long Live The Emperor"



Terra Firma Part 1

This episode of Star Trek: Discovery took us back to what looked like the Mirrorverse as the ghosts of the past came back to haunt Georgiou as she is on a one-way collision course with death. Teaming up with Michael for a trip down memory lane, she steps back into a portal after meeting a man with a mysterious newspaper celebrating the death of the Emperor. The Emperor is dead… long live, the Emperor?

As a character who I mentioned last week can feel short-changed in this season of the show compared to her storylines in the previous two seasons, Georgiou does not disappoint the more screentime is focused on her character. Michelle Yeoh is terrific as we explore a more vulnerable side of the character that looks just how much the Emperor has changed in her time spent in the main Star Trek Universe, and it’s something that the crewmembers that surround her with are instantly wary to, with the more hardliners believing that any form of mercy is a weakness. Georgiou wants to forgive Michael as she believes Michael has a way back and a path at redemption, but Michael, despite her pretence, is firmly a Lorca loyalist. I enjoyed seeing this other side of Michael as she was the one alternate character that we didn’t get to see in person last time we journeyed into the Mirrorverse, and Michelle Yeoh does a brilliant job with the character: this was a Georgiou episode through and through, and even though it was largely another set-up episode, this return was incredibly welcome and a needed dosage of the Mirrorverse halfway through a mostly excellent season.

We caught up with the more intimidating and scary versions of the Discovery crew in their new surroundings: Evil Captain Tilly was a delight, and the constant hints at Lorca meant me longing for a cameo in the next episode, although even if we didn't get one, they did enough to make him feel involved and important without actually being there. This is all about Michael and Georgiou after all (and the eyeliner, don't forget the eyliner) and the examining of one of the defining mother-daughter relationships on the show in all its different forms is one thing that this show knows how to do really well. There’s not much Georgiou can do differently as she’s largely dictated by the mysterious being in charge to follow events the same way they have done in the past as she enters this mysterious rabbit hole of her own making to save herself, and the switch to overwhelming campiness is always fun.

One of the most heartfelt scenes of the episode did not come with Michael’s involvement. Instead, we got to see a different side to Saru: the Kelpiens as servants rather than as a Captain of a Starfleet vessel, and the scene with Georgiou allowed Doug Jones to show the sheer range of his acting and why he’s one of Discovery’s best cast members. Saru has really grown as a captain each week and proved his justification for the appointment each time out, this Discovery crew, his interactions with Book, telling him that he needed to earn his place among Starfleet’s finest seemed a bit harsh given that he’s already gone through so much with Michael, but rules and regulations is what Starfleet are keen to stick to ever since having arrived in this new timeline. The show is planting threads for future arcs and Book being a more involved member of Starfleet is an arc that I’m here for.

Terra Firma Part 2

The second part of Terra Firma embraced the Mirrorverse pretty much fully as it sent us down memory lane and allowed Sonequa Martin-Green to embrace another side of her character that we hadn’t seen before, a twisted, duplicitous Michael who wasn’t afraid to backstab at any opportunity and create openings for herself at every given turn. The revelation of the plot against her was no surprise to those who knew it was coming, but was surprising was the amount of people involved, but Georgiou was able to bend her people to her will and bring Michael back under her spell after plenty of torture. So far, for Georgiou, so good.

But she’s changed from her time away from the Prime universe and even the alternate Saru can see that, he acknowledges that she must have gone a long way for a Kelpien to be in command of a Starfleet vessel. The time spent on the USS Discovery allowed for an almost Christmas-like evaluation of her past, and comparing Georgiou to Scrooge feels like a very appropriate analogy, especially with the wintery-set location of the present day storyline where we learn that after dispatching the traitors and being told from Michael that she had, indeed changed, Georgiou and Michael come to the conclusion that Georgiou is Michael’s Georgiou, and vice versa, their weird, reality-bending relationship aside being put to the test in a fascinating way.

Terra Firma Part 2 is evidence that patience pays off and even though the first part has been criticised as boring it shows why we needed it. The bad guys have so much cooler style sense; and the cheese is fully embraced in this second part with all the backstabbing shenanigans going on behind the scenes, Mirrorverse Michael kills Detmer without hesitation to prove her loyalty to the Emperor, and then goes and betrays her again further down the line which allows Discovery to have its own Civil War between the crewmembers, all of whom are in key positions of power. We learn one by one what comes next is that the Terrans prefer the straightforward boots on the ground approach, and they’re not happy with Georgiou casting the net skyward to cement her own ambitions.

I’ve praised Discovery for moving forward with its plot and leaving the old behind and whilst this did feel like a step back at the same time, it showed the perfect collaboration of both the new and old Discovery working in conjunction together to give us an ultimate resolution to Georgiou’s arc whilst allowing her to move into what presumably will be Section 31: The TV series. The revelation about the Guardian of Forever and where we’re headed next allows Star Trek to be thrust into a time-warp series of its own making even if the stakes themselves weren’t especially high here as there was only so much Discovery could do, but as an extended backdoor pilot it potentially works wonders, giving Georgiou the ability to journey through multiple parts of time and space. She could be spat back out pretty much anywhere now, and the show has unlimited potential to take her in when her spinoff gets going.

Either way, Michelle Yeoh is going to be a loss to Discovery has she stole every scene on this show that she was in no matter how small. It’ll be interesting to see what happens as the crew shakeup around them but it will allow more of a focus on the bridge crew now that the main cast is getting smaller and smaller, and we’ve seen evidence of that with Detmer getting her big Maverick moment back in Sanctuary. It's time for someone new to step up into the spotlight.

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