lorca and michael

Everything comes together in Star Trek: Discovery's 'What's Past is Prologue'

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Jan 29, 2018, 8:19 PM EST (Updated)

At this point, I’m wondering if there will ever be an episode of Star Trek: Discovery I don’t yell out loud during. “What’s Past Is Prologue” was another installment full of unexpected twists and turns. I was very wrong on some things I assumed and expected, but this episode has also reinforced a lingering suspicion I’ve had that’s been growing for some time.

The good and the bad

First: I was wrong about Stamets Prime and Mirror Stamets switching places. I assumed that was the case because of the quick camera cutaways, but upon rewatching (and a few of you disagreeing with me on that point on Twitter), I realized that they were, indeed, in their correct places. Our Stamets appears to be back in form, and able to control the spore drive. He hasn’t had a chance to grieve over Hugh yet, but you know it’s coming (though Wilson Cruz is still maintaining he’s not done on the show, which is good news to me). Mirror Stamets really was hilarious, though.

I am absolutely loving seeing Saru in command of the Discovery. I think there were probably doubts on how well he would do (and knowing Saru, he shared those feelings). But the character has done so beautifully over these past few episodes, trusting his crew to do their jobs, providing hope and inspiration when it’s needed most. I absolutely love him; Doug Jones is so excellent in this role.

We didn’t get any new information about the Ash/Voq plotline in this episode, but there was so much going on that it’s understandable. The action of this episode was excellent — who else adored seeing Michelle Yeoh doing some hand-to-hand combat in that excellent costume? And seeing Rekha Sharma again, albeit briefly, was wonderful.

Speaking of Emperor Georgiou, Michael definitely complicated things when she brought Philippa back to our universe. I love this plot twist, and yet I really hope everyone remembers who this woman is. When Michael looks at her, she sees a trusted captain, mentor, and friend who she betrayed. This Georgiou is the leader of a xenophobic, human-supremacist empire. She’s not the same person, and doesn’t deserve a cushy life in our universe (though I don’t actually think that’s going to happen, considering how this show had gone thus far).

It was nice to see Jason Isaacs have the chance to go full bad in this episode. For so long, Lorca has been playing both sides; you think that his moral ambiguity is merely due to a ruthless streak, thinking that the ends of saving Starfleet justify the means. But now we know there was nothing ambiguous about it. He was trying to pretend to fit in within the Federation, while really having his own terrible agenda all along. I absolutely loved the moment when Michael told him she wasn’t going to kill him ...  and then Michelle Yeoh took care of it for her. It was a cathartic moment, given the way he’s fooled us all. 

michael and philippa

There was so much going on in this episode that the whole mycelial network/destroying all life in the universe plotline almost seemed like an afterthought. I do love the pace of this show, and the unexpected twists and turns it gives us in every episode. However, I hope we get a chance to take a step back and breathe soon, like we did in “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad” (aka time loop episode).

Things to ponder

The second thing I was very wrong about was Lorca. I was certain that the show wouldn’t kill him, as I mentioned in last week’s recap, and I was very wrong. (I’m still in disbelief, but the disintegration of his body seemed pretty final.) Now the question is, is Star Trek: Discovery finished with him? My gut tells me no, though I haven’t had the best track record on Lorca predictions. I do still think Lorca Prime was killed on the Buran, along with his crew.

Now, finally, for the lingering suspicion I referenced in the first paragraph: I’m starting to wonder, in fact, if there is going to be some time travel involved in the premise of this show. At the end of the episode, the Discovery crew find themselves nine months from when they originally left their universe, and it appears the Klingons have won the war. So now the question is, how is the crew going to fix this? After all, if Discovery had been present, this wouldn’t have happened.

This is just theorizing, of course, but I’m wondering if the crew is somehow going to use the spore drive to return to a time before this happened, perhaps to the point that they left their universe (or maybe even back to the Battle of the Binary Stars?). The trouble is that we don’t want the spore drive to become a sort of deus ex machina that can get the crew out of any hopeless situation they find themselves in.

We’ve got two more episodes to go (a total of 15 episodes in the first season). I’m ready to see what happens, and yet I am in no way prepared to say goodbye to this show for months (possibly a year) until the second season. It’s going to be a long wait.