Star Trek: Discovery episode 13 review: What’s Past Is Prologue

This review contains spoilers.

1.13 What’s Past Is Prologue

Okay, who had episode 13 in the “Which episode will relative megastar Jason Isaacs slip out of the franchise handcuffs?” pool, because I think you might be up to collect. But please, save your ticket until the end of the season. No-one’s getting paid until we’re sure Lorca’s not coming back as his non-Mirror counterpart, or as a mycelial network echo, or as some kind of anaphasic candle ghost. At this point Star Trek: Discovery could do anything.

It’s hard not to be a little saddened by Lorca’s death, so soon after his Mirror-universe status was revealed. All those story possibilities snuffed out. That said, they swapped one Mirror-universe psycho for another, so there’s still an avenue there to explore the mythos. Will Mirror-Georgiou escape to become Burnham’s Khan (as in Noonien Singh. Not racist.) or will she also meet the business end of an elaborately-designed weapon? Like I say, at this point anything can happen: Captain Tilly, Kelpian-burgers, Candle Lorca (probably)…Discovery is the most unpredictable Trek yet, and I’m 100% here for it.

Indeed, for anyone still banging on about how this “doesn’t feel like Star Trek” (presumably because it has a budget and acting and directors who do marginally more than point a camera at two people talking) the technobabble nonsense that capped off this episode was Star Trek in its prime. What if we combine the thing with the thing, and push a button at exactly the right time? Like putting too much air in a balloon, that’s what. And home Discovery goes. There’s not a captain in Starfleet that wouldn’t have been proud of that completely insane series of events. (That said, let’s please promote Tilly. She’s saved the ship about eight times on her own now and this one was mostly her idea.)

This episode even had the best action of the series, both in space and on the Charon’s bridge. The formerly ginger Saru gave a fantastic speech to rally his crew. Michael proved she’s the action-science heroine Starfleet was born to create. Meanwhile, the dearly departed Lorca showed us that the bad guys get the best lines, and even the minor bridge crew members all got actual lines this week as the writers presumably feel around for characters who can move into the main cast next year to replace all of the corpses. I could not have been more pleased with this episode if it had been the series finale, and brilliantly, it isn’t.

Now, with praise heaped on what we saw this week, here’s a list of what else I want to know: What happened with Mirror Discovery while it was in the main universe? Has it gone back? Is there a non-Mirror Lorca? How did Lorca get control of the Discovery? Is Mirror-Burnham actually dead? Is Tilly going to get another new hairstyle before the end of the season? Is the magic space-mushroom network nerfed for the foreseeable future? And since I was ill last week (I had flu, thanks for asking) why didn’t Stamets notice the alternate version of himself was DRESSED LIKE A SPACE NAZI? RIP in peace Mirror Stamets, who died purely to show us Chekhov’s conveniently-placed spacehole. No, not that type of spacehole. And I said CHEKHOV, not Chekov.

Finally, I would like to put it to you: what’s up with that cliffhanger? Are we heading towards a time-travel reset button, a genuine continuity-insert period of Klingon rule, or some kind of semi-permanent timeline divergence?

Like I say: anything could happen.

This Week, in Your Guide to the Obscure References of The Star Trek:

It’s revealed that Lorca crossed over from the Mirror Universe into the prime universe by transporting during an Ion Storm. This is how the original series quartet – Kirk, McCoy, Uhuru, and Scotty – swapped universes in TOS 2×04 (Mirror, Mirror). According to episode of Deep Space Nine, the transporters were then modified to stop that happening again. This might actually suggest the fate of the “original” Lorca – in Mirror, Mirror, the transport meant they swapped places with their counterparts. Did original Lorca get pulled into the mirror-verse only to instantly die in Mirror-Lorca’s place? I expect we’ll find out eventually.

Saru’s declaration that the crew will not accept a “no-win scenario” can’t help but recall the Kobayashi Maru, the famous test which trains Starfleet officers to, er, accept a no-win scenario.

And that’s about it. Where’d you go, fanservice? You know, other than the entire premise of this arc.

DIS WTF: Was anyone else kind of expecting the answer to “How long did we overshoot?” to be “500 years!” rather than 9 months? Come ONNNNNN, just give us some post-Voyager timeline nonsense. Or the Enterprise J. Don’t we deserve it?

DIS LOL: I admit it. I laughed at Mirror-Stamets’ death. And Lorca’s claim that he never cared much for poetry. Oooh, he’s so EVIL.

Mistakes and minutia: Landry used a TOS flip-phone communicator AND they had the super-classic photon torpedoes sound. If this doesn’t push your buttons in gleeful ways then you probably grew up with actual real-life friends instead of the bridge crew of the Enterprise. But who’s the loser now, mum and dad?

Time to meeting: I am pleased to say that immediately after I decided to drop this section we got an episode with a proper conference table and everything, as Georgiou retreats to any Trek captain’s safe haven: the meeting room. NOW it “feels like Star Trek”, you naysayers.

Two more episodes to go. Christ knows what’ll happen next. 

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