Star Trek Discovery: Connected Across Universes

Title: Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 12: “Vaulting Ambition”
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction
Platform: Streaming – CBS All Access
Director: Hanelle M. Culpepper
Writer: Jordan Nardino
Rating: TV-MA
Release: January 21, 2018
Cast: Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Jason Issacs, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman
Feature image: Source


“Haven’t you ever been afraid of a ghost? Logic tells me she’s not the woman that I betrayed. But this feels like a reckoning.” Michael Burnham – Star Trek: Discovery

The Emperor summons Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs) to the I.S.S. Charon, a huge spaceship that is also the Emperor’s palace. Burnham and Lorca discuss their meeting with Emperor Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh). Lorca: “Your Georgiou is dead. She’s a ghost.”  Burnham: “Haven’t you ever been afraid of a ghost? Logic tells me she’s not the woman that I betrayed. But this feels like a reckoning.”

Commander Saru (Doug Jones) and Cadet Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) discuss Lt. Paul Stamets’ (Anthony Rapp) condition. She thinks he looks better. Saru states the obvious; he is in a coma. Saru informs Tilly that the info from the Shenzhou wasn’t helpful. Much of the information was redacted. If Burnham and Lorca can’t get the coordinates from the Charon, they’ll need the spore drive to get home. He gets a call to come to sickbay. Tilly asks the comatose Stamets, “Are you in there lieutenant?” Stamets is in the mycelial network talking to his Terran counterpart. Terran Stamets: “Yes, Paul. You’ve been wrong about everything. There is a god, and she is very, very mad at you right now.” He watches the confusion dawn on Stamets face. “You should have seen your face, I mean our face.” The Terran Stamets is also in a coma aboard the Charon. The visions Stamets had on the Discovery came from him; Terran Stamets was communicating to Stamets. He needs him to help get them out of the mycelial network. They have to be careful not to get lost.

Captain Maddox (Dwain Murphy) introduces the Emperor [full title], “Her most Imperial Majesty, Mother of the Fatherland, Overlord of Vulcan, Dominus of Krones, Regina Andor, Emperor Philippa Georgiou Augustus Iaponius Centarius”. As a reward for bringing in Lorca, she tells Burnham to pick one of the Kelpiens that is present. The guards bring Lorca before Emperor Georgiou. Lorca: “You think I’m gonna bow to you? I don’t bow.”  The guards knock him to his knees. Emperor Georgiou smacks Lorca around and sends him to the agonizer booth.  Emperor Georgiou is glad to see Burnham alive, “Everything will be the way it was, dear daughter.”  This clearly moves Burnham.

Lt. Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif) is screaming in Klingon, the medical staff doesn’t know what to do. His scans show he is Lt. Ash Tyler, but his brain scans show something else. A doctor tells Saru that if the Klingons found a way to put a Klingon in Ash’s body, the medical staff doesn’t know how to help him. Tyler shortly calms down and asks if Burnham is alright. When Saru tells him she is alright, he asks Saru to help him, and then he starts screaming in pain again. Saru tells the staff to sedate Tyler.

“No one prepares Kelpien like the imperial chef.”  Emperor Philippa Georgiou – Star Trek: Discovery

Burnham has dinner with Emperor Georgiou. To Burnham’s horror, Georgiou is serving the Kelpien that Burnham picked. Georgiou: “No one prepares Kelpien like the imperial chef.”  The dinner gets worse; Georgiou puts a knife against her throat and accuses her of treachery. Emperor Georgiou: “Why were you never satisfied? I knew you had become Lorca’s collaborator and you were conspiring to kill me and take my throne.”  Burnham: “Please, Philippa.”  Emperor Georgiou: “Oh, it’s ‘Philippa,’ now? Not so long ago it was ‘Mother.”  Emperor Georgiou calls her guards, she orders them to take Burnham to the throne room and call her council; she is going to execute Burnham herself.

“It was awful. My partner is dead. My life’s work’s been a waste. What I knew to be beautiful is hostile, and the mycelial network is hell.” Lt. Paul Stamets – Star Trek: Discovery

Back at the mycelial network, Stamets is trying to map an exit out of the network. He spots the late Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz) walking in the shadows. To Terran Stamets annoyance, Stamets stops looking for the exit and starts trying to find Culber. He is walking down the hallways, just out of Stamets reach. Stamets finally catches up to him in their quarters. He informs Stamets that he is dead. Stamets wishes they could go back to the way things were, so they do their favorite routine of preparing to go to bed. Ghost Culber asks Stamets how his day was. Stamets: “It was awful. My partner is dead. My life’s work’s been a waste. What I knew to be beautiful is hostile, and the mycelial network is hell.” “The network is a gift,” Culber explains. Stamets: “I don’t want to say goodbye.”  Culber: “It’s never goodbye. Isn’t that what you have been trying to teach all of us? Nothing in here is ever truly gone. I believe in you, Paul. I love you.” Culber tells him that the mycelial network is alive, and that the Terran Stamets is bad, [duh] and he has to save the network to save everyone. He tells Stamets that he has to wake up. “Look for the clearing in the forest.” This wakes Stamets out of his coma, and it does the same for Terran Stamets on the Charon. He finds Tilly and they look at the spore forest in the ship, it is dying.

With her council in attendance, Emperor Georgiou is ready to execute Burnham. She promises Burnham to kill her quickly because she loves her. In a last ditch effort to save herself, Burnham comes clean. “Before today, you and I have never met,” she declares. “I am Michael Burnham, but I am not your Michael Burnham.”  She explains that she comes from another universe and to prove it she gives the Emperor Captain Georgiou’s insignia. “Our bond, it seems, is strong enough to cross universes.”  It show the universe’s different variance. Once she finds out that Burnham is telling the truth, she uses a cool device to kill everyone in the room except Lord Eling (Jeremy Crittenden). She asks him if he can keep a secret. When he says he can, she tells him as his reward, he will become the Governor of Andor. She also needs him to clean up the dead bodies.

Saru goes to the brig to talk to L’Rell (Mary Chieffo). He asks her to help mitigate Tyler’s suffering. She explains that they used the real Tyler’s DNA to put over Voq. They were going to use Voq to win the war. Saru informs her that they are in a parallel universe, and the Klingons in this universe have already lost their war. “I do not know where your Voq ends and our Tyler begins, but they are both in jeopardy,” he continues. “The question is: Will you ease their pain?” Her response to Saru’s plea, “Voq has given his body and soul for our ideology. If he suffers for that choice, so be it. He accepted that suffering in order to best the enemy. That is what it means to be a soldier. That is war.”

Burnham asks Emperor Georgiou to help the Discovery to go back home. “You’re interlopers from an alien army,” Georgiou says. “What reason from any universe would I have to help you?” She saw the Defiant’s files and she knows about the Federation and their tenants. Georgiou: “Equality, freedom, cooperation are delusions and destructive ideals that fuel rebellions.”  She tells Burnham that the Defiant came through interphasic space and their crew went mad. Now she is curious how the Discovery got here. Burnham confesses that they came her by spore drive. This interests the Emperor; she makes Burnham an offer, “Your engine schematics for your freedom.”  Burnham asks the Emperor how she can trust her. Emperor Georgiou asks Burnham was her Georgiou an honorable person. Burnham confirms that she was. Georgiou: “Then you have no reason to believe I am not as well.”

“You have sealed this being’s hellish fate. Human versus Klingon in one body. That is war.” Commander Saru – Star Trek: Discovery

Saru goes back to the brig to talk to L’Rell again. He shows her a video of Tyler breaking out of his restraints. The boy looks in bad shape. Saru has Tyler beamed into L’Rell’s cell. Saru: “You have sealed this being’s hellish fate. Human versus Klingon in one body. That is war.” She sees his suffering and confesses that she can undo the procedure. They take her to sickbay under guard and with some kind of gloves begins to do something to his brain. We see flashbacks of Voq on the ship of the dead with T’Kuvma.  Tyler starts screaming Klingon but ends speaking English. I guess the human part of him has gained dominance over his body. Therefore, I guess we can assume he is Lt. Ash Tyler again. [Maybe?]

Lorca is in his agonizer booth screaming in pain. Captain Maddox comes into the room, it’s soon apparent that there is something personal between the two of them. Maddox brings one of Terran Lorca’s friends in the room. He tells Lorca if he doesn’t say Maddox sister’s name, he’ll kill his friend. Of course, Lorca wouldn’t know Maddox sister’s name so he asks Maddox to leave this man out of it. Maddox injects the friend with an alien parasite that causes him to explode.

“He said he’d cross time and space itself to take what was rightfully his.” Emperor Philippa Georgiou – Star Trek: Discovery

Burnham contacts Saru and asks that he meet her and Emperor Georgiou about the schematics. They set a rendezvous spot. The Emperor and Burnham begin to talk about Terran Burnham and Lorca. Lorca was a close advisor to her. He was a father figure to Burnham but it developed into a sexual relationship. He was grooming her. [YUCK!] “He said he’d cross time and space itself to take what was rightfully his,” Emperor Georgiou tells Burnham. Suddenly Burnham begins to think about her relationship with Lorca and the things he has said to her. Lorca getting her out of prison and making her a member of his crew, the interest he has in her wellbeing, it feels like he has been grooming her too. What places the nail in the coffin is when the Emperor tells her that a characteristic of the people of this universe is their aversion to direct light. It’s clear; her Lorca is Terran Lorca! We switch back to Lorca with Maddox. In the beginning of the episode, Burnham gave him something to ease the pain of the agonizer booth. Lorca isn’t in the weakened state Maddox thinks he is in. Lorca overpowers him and tells him, “Ava, her name was Ava — and I liked her.”

Oh crap, what was that! I complained about the last episode because we all knew that Tyler was Voq, so when they finally revealed it, who cared. I didn’t see this coming. I’ve read people’s theories that this entire series was in the mirror universe, that’s why they didn’t act like the Starfleet officers we are used to. I’ve also seen some people say that Lorca was from the mirror universe, but there were many theories floating out there. I thought that Lorca was a badly damaged person because of the Buran, and that either he had a major redemption arc waiting for him, or Saru and Barnham would lead a mutiny against him; leading to his death. I didn’t believe he was a mirror Lorca, so the show got me on that one. When you look at the clues, it is all there, so I have no problem with the reveal. It explains a lot of the show, but it doesn’t necessarily fix the problems people have with the show. I have some problems with the show, but the first season of most Star Trek shows are rough, so I wasn’t surprised that this season would be rough too. If the show has the same problems at the end of next season, then I’ll believe there is a serious problem with the show. I enjoyed the reveal and got a kick out of it. I hope Burnham and Georgiou kick the SOB’s arse.

The episode sent Burnham through the ringer. She was already reeling from Tyler being Voq and him trying to kill her, and meeting Emperor Georgiou, her beloved mentor’s doppelganger. Now you add that Georgiou fed her the Kelpien she picked out, planned on killing her ‘daughter’ because Terran Georgiou had betrayed her, and the kicker, her Captain was the bastard who betrayed Georgiou and groomed Terran Burnham. [Lorca is the Terran Woody Allen.] They need to install a therapist aboard the Discovery next season; Burnham alone could keep them busy. I think she trusts Georgiou more than she should, but how can she help it. Back on the Discovery, another prime candidate for therapy is Lt. Ash Tyler, [if that is whom he is]. I’m still not sure what L’Rell did to him when she undid the procedure. If he is Ash Tyler, he is going to remember killing Culber, trying to kill Burnham, and his complicated feelings for L’Rell. He and Burnham can share the same couch. Stamets is going to need many sessions too. He lost Culber, and he is dealing with the effects of the mycelial network.  The Discovery therapist is going to be busy.

The episode pacing was swift, and the acting was on point; I especially enjoyed the scenes with Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz. It really made their relationship feel real, and how tragic Culber’s death is. [If they don’t resurrect him or have mirror Culber join the crew.] The second half of the season is fun; they seem to be having fun being in the mirror universe. The show might be relying too much on twists, but since I think they have sprung their major twists now, we’ll see how the final three episodes in the season play out. I have no idea where they are going, and I’m cool with it.

Grade: A








Anthony (Kbear!) Nichols | Editor-in-Chief
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