Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 12 Review – Vaulting Ambition

star trek discovery vaulting ambition captain lorca jason isaacs mirror universe dr culber fridging

Of course, though, there is one part of this episode that must be mentioned: Captain Lorca is, in fact, from the Mirror Universe, and he’s been manipulating Burnham and the crew of the Discovery throughout the series in the hopes of returning home to finish his coup.

I am in… well, no, I’m not in two minds about it. I just don’t particularly like the idea.

Mirror-Lorca has been something of a popular fan theory for a while now – second only really to ‘Ash Tyler is Voq’ in terms of how ubiquitous it was, but largely lacking in the same ancillary details to substantiate the idea. Indeed, more often than not, the idea that Lorca was from the Mirror universe was borne from a rejection of the idea that someone like him wouldn’t exist in the main universe – essentially a rejection of the nuances of the character, dismissing them because they were a bit different from the Star Trek captains we’ve seen before. Sure, there’s since been a couple of vague hints, but that’s largely always been the starting point.

In this review, I spoke largely about my trepidation about the mirror-Lorca reveal (spoilers, sorry) and my frustration at fridging Culber (again, sorry), particularly after the show had depicted itself as the ‘progressive’ Star Trek at last.

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 11 Review – The Wolf Inside

star trek discovery the wolf inside michael burnham ash tyler shazad latif sonequa martin green tv review analysis

It’s worth taking a moment to focus on and celebrate Shazad Latif here; playing a dual role is difficult under any circumstances, but he really excels here. Latif has given a very mannered performance up to this point, with a precise awareness of his performance; watching the façade slip, and seeing the distinction between Voq and Tyler begin to fall away, it becomes evident just how skilled he is.

With a lesser actor, it’d be easy to imagine this plotline not quite working – but Shazad Latif really elevates it, with a brilliantly nuanced performance underscoring just how painful this process is. Hopefully (and I do suspect this will be the case) we’ll get a chance to see him dive deeper into the dichotomy between Ash and Voq in future episodes. Surely Ash is still in there on some level, and I’ve little doubt that Shazad Latif will continue to pitch that duality perfectly.

My review of Star Trek: Discovery, which is mostly about how great Shazad Latif is, but also the show’s character work.

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Star Trek isn’t Game of Thrones, and it shouldn’t try to be

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What’s also particularly troubling is the – hopefully unintentional – trend that’s emerged as each major character is killed. The first was Captain Michelle Georgiou, a female character of colour. The second was Head of Security Commander Landry, a female character of colour (who was killed off fairly unceremoniously, and really only for shock value). In the most recent episode, it was Doctor Culber – another person of colour, and one half of Star Trek: Discovery’s gay couple.

It’s a series of deaths that’d be a problem for any show, but there’s something about it that feels worse with Star Trek: Discovery. A big part of the marketing for Star Trek: Discovery drew focus to its diversity – the fact that it saw the first black female lead, the first Asian female captain, and the first openly gay characters in Star Trek history. In a real and meaningful way, Star Trek: Discovery was going to realise the promise of the original series at last – finally, a vision of the future that genuinely was as utopian as it was meant to be. If the series gained any credit for that, it’s surely squandered a lot of it now.

Yet it does suggest that, at one point, there was an understanding of just what Star Trek is meant to be. While it hasn’t always lived up to its reputation, Star Trek is a fundamentally hopeful, optimistic series – an idealistic one that looks towards a better future. The deaths we’ve seen so far haven’t been in keeping with that – they were nothing short of cynical. You can see how they’ve been influenced by Game of Thrones; they’d fit right in there. Thrones, after all, is a much more pessimistic series – that’s not a slight against it, not at all, but it is one of the things that set it apart from Star Trek.

This is a very spoiler-y piece on Star Trek: Discovery – it contains discussion of various deaths that happened in the series.

This was an article that had been on my mind since, I think, the third episode of the series. In the run-up to Discoverys premier, showrunners Aaron Harberts and Gretchen J. Berg spoke about being influenced by Game of Thrones, and wanted to have deaths you wouldn’t expect throughout the show. It struck me as cynical at the time, even more so when watching the show itself.

The excerpt above admittedly doesn’t have a lot to do with that – it’s part of a digression about an aggravating trend that developed across Discovery – but the article as a whole tackles the idea that Star Trek should have lots of deaths in it, because… well, I’m not convinced. It’s kinda also part of the ongoing development of a theory about death in fiction and storytelling, because I’m becoming increasingly convinced that death is typically the least interesting storytelling choice available.

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Star Trek: Discovery Series 1 Episode 10 Review – Despite Yourself

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One thing I’d not considered, and I must admit that’s a lapse, is that the Mirror Universe has the potential to be a really interesting milieu to explore in 2017 – especially given that we’re visiting the fascist Terran Empire. At this point, the concepts were only sketched in quite quickly (understandable, given Discovery had a lot of exposition to work through this week), but there’s a lot of different avenues to explore with the concept of a dark reflection. Hopefully, Discovery will be able to pick up on some of those ideas, and give us a new approach to the mirror universe.

In turn, I was glad that the story wasn’t wrapped up in this episode alone; there’s a lot of potential there, and it’ll be nice to see how things continue to develop. Presumably, at some point we’ll be set to actually meet the alternate Burnham or Lorca – and what’re the bets that we’ll see Emperor Georgiou at some point? There’s a sense that we might be about to establish a new status quo for Discovery, with these episodes acting as a pivotal turning point – it’s not difficult to imagine a vision of the series that explores the multiverse, a brand new final frontier of its own.

Here is one of my Discovery reviews again! This was the first episode back after the midseason break, kicking off Discovery phase two in earnest.

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