Title: Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 13: “What’s Past is Prologue”
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction
Platform: Streaming – CBS All Access
Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi
Writer: Ted Sullivan
Release: January 28, 2018
Cast: Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Jason Issacs, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman
Feature image: Source
“I have been to another universe and back, You think I’d come all this way without a plan?” Captain Gabriel Lorca – Star Trek: Discovery
Captain Gabriel Lorca/Terran Lorca (Jason Isaacs) is freeing his followers from the agonizer booths. Lorca: “One year, two hundred and twelve days of torture. Of agony, my friends. My followers. But I have returned to give meaning to your suffering. Today is the day we reclaim our empire.” He frees Terran Landry (Rekha Sharma) from her booth, “I don’t know how you got here or how you got us all out alive.” Terran Landry wonders what his plan is. “I have been to another universe and back,” Lorca tells Terran Landry, “You think I’d come all this way without a plan?” They begin to look for Terran Stamets (Anthony Rapp). Lorca knows he wouldn’t leave his work behind, so they find him hiding in his lab. Lorca is angry with Terran Stamets for selling him out to the Emperor. He explains that while escaping, an ion storm swept him up leading him to the prime [our] universe. Terran Stamets: “Frankly, I’m still stuck on the not dead part.” Terran Stamets is developing a bioweapon for the Emperor and Lorca wants to use it against her troops. Lorca orders his troops not to harm Burnham. Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) is with Emperor Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh). She doesn’t trust Burnham so she orders her troops to take her to the brig. As Burnham often does, she escapes.
Acting Captain Saru (Doug Jones) is headed for the Charon, the spore drive is back on line since Lt. Stamets is out of his coma and back to normal. Stamets informs Saru that he is afraid that Terran Stamets has contaminated the mycelium crop. The mycelium network is dying, poisoned by Terran Stamets’ greed in creating the core of the Charon. The Charon orb harvests the network’s energy in a way that threatens the safety of the entire multiverse. If it isn’t stopped, life as we know it will cease to exist.
“I’ve watched for years as you let alien races spill over the borders and flourish in our backyard,” he says, addressing Georgiou in a transmission to the entire I.S.S. Charon. “Terrans need a leader who will preserve our way of life, our race and make the Empire glorious again.” He eggs Georgiou on by saying that Terran Burnham was ashamed of her weakness. Lorca: “Well, it’s indecorous of me to share pillow talk.” Lorca unleashes the bioweapon against Georgiou’s troops. Terran Owosekun (Oyin Oladejo): “Sensors have detected mass casualties on decks one through seventeen!” Emperor Georgiou: “He’s come back from the grave to stage a revolution and that’s the best he’s got?” They track Lorca’s transmission to the lab. Georgiou gathers her troops to attack. Lorca ambushes Georgiou and her troops; she has a trick up her sleeve, a force field. Lorca has one too, Terran Stamets lowers the force field, tosses a flash grenade that blinds Georgiou’s troops and wipes them out. Georgiou has to use an emergency transport to escape. Lorca gloats, “I was just thinking about everyone who has ever said that victory felt empty when it was attained. What a bunch of idiots they were.”
Burnham gets in contact with the Discovery. She informs the crew that Lorca is a Terran and he brought them to this universe on purpose. Stamets figures out that Lorca took the data from his 133 jumps and made the final coordinates without them knowing it. They inform her about Charon’s orb and what it is doing to the mycelium network. They devise a plan, Burnham will lower the shield that protects the orb and the Discovery will blow it up with proton torpedoes.
“Please tell me we can kill him now.” Commander Landry – Star Trek: Discovery
Lorca: “Believe in Destiny now, Mr. Stamets?” Terran Stamets: “That’s rhetorical, right?” Terran Landry: “Please tell me we can kill him now.” Lorca doesn’t need Terran Stamets any longer so he threatens to throw him into the living core of the mycelium network. “The living core of the mycelial network. Its poetic justice, don’t you think? Scientist destroyed by his own creation. Just kidding. I hate poetry.” Terran Landry shoots Terran Stamets instead. They detect that Burnham is contacting the Discovery.
Lorca talks to Burnham over the ship’s coms. Lorca: “The Federation is a social experiment, doomed to failure. Childish idealism. Every species, every choice, every opinion is not equal no matter how much they want it to be. The strong and the capable will always rise. Every living being is safer and happier knowing their place… Stay with me, stay here and help me bring peace to this world. Through strength and order, the right way.” While he’s talking, he has Terran Landry try to sneak up on her. Burnham has rerouted her signal so Lorca and Terran Landry don’t know where she is. Burnham finds Emperor Georgiou in her ready room. She isn’t happy to see her since she thinks that Lorca has seduced her too. She got that idea because Lorca was ordering his troops not to hurt her. Burnham tells Georgiou she is her own woman and she won’t let Lorca dictate her future. She is going to stop him. “Both versions of me betrayed both versions of you,” Burnham says and makes this promise. “I won’t let that happen again.” She confides to Georgiou that the Discovery is going to blow up the orb and she needs to lower the shield. Georgiou tells her she has to do that in the throne room; how does she plan to do that. She tells Georgiou that she will give Lorca what he wants.
“Make no mistake: Discovery is no longer Lorca’s. She is ours. Today will be her maiden voyage.” Commander Saru – Star Trek: Discovery
Back on the Discovery, Stamets is explaining that they will have to put all of their spores in their warheads to destroy the orb. They won’t be able to use the spore drive to get home. Cadet Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) has more bad news, she has ran simulations that show they won’t be able to get away from the explosions’ waves and they will be incinerated. Saru speaks to the crew, “It is well-known that my species has the ability to sense the coming of death. I do not sense it today. I may not have all the answers. However, I do know that I am surrounded by a team I trust. The finest a Captain could ever hope to command. Lorca abused our idealism. Make no mistake: Discovery is no longer Lorca’s. She is ours. Today will be her maiden voyage. We have a duty to perform, and we will not accept a no-win scenario. You have your orders. On your way.” Saru restores the crew’s confidence and they are ready to win. After further work, Tilly tells Stamets that she has found a potential way home. They can ride the mycelium wave that will be emitted from destroying the core on the Charon. Stamets realizes that with the combination of their shields and a warp bubble, if they combine the spore and warp drives, it will give him a chance to guide them home. Tilly thinks it will be difficult. “Hard is the word you’re looking for,” says Stamets. “But I don’t accept no-win scenarios.”
“We would have helped you get home, if you had asked. That’s who Starfleet is, that’s who I am. That’s why I won’t kill you now.” Michael Burnham – Star Trek: Discovery
Burnham surprises Lorca and Terran Landry, she brings in Emperor Georgiou. She makes him an offer, if he lets her crew go, he can have her. Only her mind though. Lorca smirks. “I’m destined to kill you,” Georgiou tells Lorca, to which he replies, “That would certainly be an impressive trick.” Lorca thinks he is completely in control and welcomes Burnham home. When the Discovery gets to the Charon they get a message that looks like it is from Burnham telling them to drop out of warp. Its Lorca though, he tells them they can go home but Burnham is staying there on her own free will. He tells Saru how much he likes and respect the Discovery crew. Saru could care less, he wants to talk to Burnham. She tells Saru she is in the place she should be. That is the signal. A spectacular fight scene begins. She and Georgiou take out the guards while the Discovery fires upon the ship. The two women engage in hand to hand combat with Lorca and Terran Landry. Georgiou stabs Lorca with a knife, he takes it out and throws it at her and she kicks it away. She and Burnham defeat Lorca and Terran Landry. They lower the shield around the orb. The Discovery destroys the orb. Burnham to a defeated Lorca, “We would have helped you get home, if you had asked. That’s who Starfleet is, that’s who I am. That’s why I won’t kill you now.” Emperor Georgiou doesn’t share this sentiment, she stabs Lorca in the back with a sword and pushes him into the living core of the mycelium network. We watch the bastard disintegrate. Georgiou is willing to stay behind and fight off Lorca troops so Burnham can be beamed aboard the Discovery. Emperor Georgiou: “I am a defeated emperor. They have seen my neck. I have no future now. But I will die on my feet as befitting my station.” When the Discovery begins to beam Burnham off the Charon, she grabs Georgiou to save her. They materialize back on the Discovery. A bewildered Georgiou asks, “What have you done to me!”
Stamets begins the journey home through the mycelium network. He isn’t sure how to navigate through it but he remembers ghost Culber (Wilson Cruz) telling him, “Look for the clearing in the forest.” He closes his eyes and hears Culber’s favorite aria, he sees the clearing in the mycelium network, and guides the Discovery back home. The bridge crew can’t contact anyone from Star Fleet; they don’t even get an automated response. They discover they have jumped nine months in the future. They look at the current maps and realize that the Klingons have taken over most of the Federation territory. It looks like they got back home too late; the Klingons have won the war.
In the last episode, we found out that Gabriel Lorca was Terran and he had pulled a long con on the Discovery crew to get back home. Now we see how evil Lorca is, he wouldn’t feel out of place in the current administration. Lorca has one weakness, a certain Michael Burnham, and it is his undoing. Stamets woke up in the last episode, and he isn’t any worse for wear. He is physically and mentally able to navigate the ship; unfortunately, the mycelium network is dying because the Terrans are drawing power from it directly and killing the spore ecosystem inside it. To save it they will have to destroy the orb aboard the Charon. It appears it will kill them if they do, but Saru proves his true metal and rallies the crew. We didn’t see Tyler or L’Rell, so I’ll assume he is recuperating from her ‘surgery’. Burnham did a Burnham thing and brought her surrogate ‘mommy’ Emperor Georgiou to the prime universe. They jumped nine months in the future and found out they didn’t get the Klingon cloaking signatures to Star Fleet in time, it looks like the Federation lost the war.
This episode was bonkers, but in the best ways. If you were looking for it all to make sense, you left disappointed. Doing something that is reasonable and logical eludes these people. Lorca went through a lot of trouble to get back home to be killed, because he thought he could influence Burnham as he did Terran Burnham. His wanting her led to a sword through his back. Burnham seems to have the same problem, she knows Emperor Georgiou isn’t her Philippa Georgiou, but she places the same faith and emotional attachment in her. I hope it doesn’t come back to bite her in the arse. [I’m sure it will.] The plans she and the crew of the Discovery drew up to destroy the orb shouldn’t have worked, but luckily, the Terrans are evil and stupid and they didn’t see most of this coming. For all of the wackiness of the episode, the pace was fast, and the action scenes were fantastic. A special shout out to the episode’s cinematographer Glen Keenan, because the episode was beautiful and vibrant. The fight scenes were great. Michelle Yeoh was fantastic, especially in the throne room where she gave a master class in kicking butt, but I think the stunt coordinator Christopher McGuire deserves credit for how all the action scenes looked.
What I especially loved about this episode was Saru’s speech to the crew. Doug Jones gave a great performance, but most important; it was the show finally espousing Star Trek ideas that felt real and heartfelt. This show has generally been dark and cynical, with everyone not acting like the type of Star Fleet officers we’ve grown to love. Saru in that moment became the type of captain we want to see. Georgiou was that in the first two episodes, but they killed her off too quickly, and we ended up with Lorca who went against what Star Fleet stands for. We know why he did, but I think it’s a major reason the show has left so many people cold. I don’t mind the show being dark and edgy, but the idealism of the show has to be at the forefront. Saru brought it back. He said this was the ship’s maiden voyage, this episode feels like the show’s maiden voyage too.