Matt and Sean talk about the Star Trek mirror universe storytelling that FINALLY feels fresh in Discovery. There’s some interesting twists and turns in this one.
104: “Vaulting Ambition” – Star Trek Discovery Season 1, Episode 12
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Welcome everybody to Trek in Time, where we’re watching every episode of Star Trek in chronological order. We’re also taking a look at the world at the time of original broadcast. So as I mentioned before, we’re at the end of season one of Discovery. We’ve only got a handful of episodes left. It felt like it took us.
Literal years. Yes. To get through Enterprise and suddenly blink. We’re almost done with the first season of discovery. Yeah. We are also talking about the world during the first part of 2018. It’s not that long ago, but it feels like it could have been a lifetime ago because Ho Boy has been a busy couple of years.
And who are we? Well, I’m Sean Ferrell. I’m a writer. I write some sci-fi. I write some stuff for kids, including the most recently released. The sinister secrets of Singe, the robot and smuggler filled middle grade adventure series that I hope people will be interested in checking out with me, of course, is my brother Matt.
He’s the guru and inquisitor behind the YouTube channel, undecided with Matt Farrell, which takes a look at merging tech and it’s impact on our lives. So we have the storytelling, we have the sci-fi tech, which means we’ve got star Trek. Matt, how you doing today? I’m doing good. It’s good. July 4th weekend, trying to have it relaxing.
Kind of a long weekend to take a, take a breath and enjoy life a little bit. How, how’s it going for you? I’m doing all right. It’s good to hear that you’re, you’re trying to have a long weekend when your employer is you. Me, yes. I’m kind of giving myself the weekend off. That’s nice. That’s the way it should be.
Yeah. What we usually like to do before we have our discussion about the most recent episode is revisit some of the comments from previous ones. So Matt, what did you find in the comments for us this week? Well, there’s a couple fun ones. One, we’re starting to put out some YouTube shorts, some clips from our show, and there was a comment from one of the shorts.
I’m gonna have to paraphrase this cuz there’s some harsh language. I effing love discovery. I know I’m in the minority, but I think it’s the best of the new Trek. I’ll die on this hill. That’s from John Vance. I just love the fact that he’s one to die on the hill. Yeah. That he loves this show. John, I I thank you for the comment, and I will say this.
When Discovery first came out, I was super excited about Star Trek being back on television. That, to me, was the most important aspect of it. Then the show was aired and I was watching it, and I was still very happy that Star Trek was back on television. It felt important, but there were elements of it that I didn’t.
Like quite as much. Yeah. On the rewatch, and I know Matt and I have talked about this previously on the rewatch, I am appreciating this show a lot more Yes. Than I did the first time through. So yeah. John, I’m not. Gonna necessarily die on that hill with you, but I will say it is a battle worth fighting.
There are elements of this show that I think are actually really, really great and unique to this series. I like that you’re basically saying, you go, John, run up that hill. John, I’m right behind you. I, I agree with you some things. Yeah. But John, you’re not wrong. You’re not definitely wrong to like this show.
I think there are lots of things about this show that are worth, worth, uh, enjoying. Another one from Regular Commenter Pale ghost 69. I finally see what the directors were going for with Burnham. She’s literally designed for this episode. In fact, I’d wager the story would be better if Burnham was the one stuck in the wrong universe instead of Lorca.
Also, I called it on the rogue ship, fighting an evil empire, l o l. So I, on the rewatch, talking about the rewatch. There is so much more depth to all these characters and to Burnham than I I got on the first watch. Yeah. It’s like there is so much great stuff being done with her and some of the other characters that it’s a shame that they created a show.
We’ve said this before, that’s better on a rewatch than it is. The first time through. And the last comment I wanna bring up is from Technophile. What else have they missed in the mirror universe? Perhaps I’m trying too hard to make sense of a fictional program. Thinking through the logic of historical changes, it seems like they were a bit too selective about what they took from enterprise, for example, why does Mirror Voq look the same?
Mirror Vulcans didn’t have beards in the first contact, right? It feels like there was a missed opportunity to make some changes based on the Klingon augment virus. Never happening. They could have had some fun with it, with the, the mirror universe. Yeah. But they kept it, they kept it like exactly the same, just people in different places.
Yeah. There are certain aspects of it that just simply boil down to It’s a TV show. Yeah. And that’s one of them. It’s um, You know, the first contact, lack of beards. That is an interesting thing to point out. The reason there are no beards in is because it’s literally repurposing from a film. Yeah. So they didn’t shoot new stuff to show first contact with the mirror Vulcans.
But your point does make sense and it, I do appreciate the comment because it does. Create an opportunity to think about some of the, and we’ll talk about this in this discussion, I think a lot of mirror universe depictions, the original series of course introduced the mirror universe, and the point of it was not to explore the mirror universe, it was to explore the characters Yeah.
And what the mirror characters were like. And then it became more and more as the mirror universe was used again and again, and it was used in multiple series throughout all of Trek, and every time it was done, it became more, and now more about the universe, less about the characters. Mm-hmm. I think that that was most abundantly clear in enterprise, where we literally had a standalone as if it was totally disconnected from the series.
Mirror Universe episode. So it’s, and the depiction there versus the depiction here. Matt and I talked about that episode. I really didn’t like the way people were directed. I didn’t like the way Bakula had to swagger around, like he had some pool balls in his. Pants. He didn’t look like he was walking normally.
It was just everything about that looked like a bunch of people being told to play act. And if I remember correctly, Jolene Blaylock Blaylock said of that episode, she thought it was ridiculous. Mm-hmm. She, she, there was no point to it and it really felt like a bottle episode for no other point. This depiction of what the Mirror Universe is about is going back for me, is going back more about to the relationships of the characters to each other, and especially with a twist that is revealed in this episode.
It’s already been dropped in the comments, so we can get right into it. But before we do that, that noise in the background is of course the read alert, which means it’s time for Matt to buckle up. Oh, geez. Strap himself in, put on his crash helmet and read the Wikipedia description. Burnham and Lorca are summoned to the iss Charon, the Imperial flagship.
Georgiou sends Lorca to a torturous agony booth and has dinner with Burnham. Sorry. That’s a hysterical sentence to me. Yes, it is. Stamets finds himself within the mycelial network with the consciousness of his mirror counterpart, learning that the network has been corrupted by the mirror Stamets experiments.
Stamets encounters a representation of Culbert and accepts his loss before waking up from his trance. He discovers that his spore collection has been infected, Georgiou laments, allowing Lorca to become a father figure to Burnham only for the pair to fall in love and plot. To overthrow her, she plans to execute Burnham, who reveals the truth about being from another universe, explaining how they had crossed over Georgiou trades.
The spore drives schematics for information on an alternative ways to cross between universes, which leads Burnham to realize. That that the Lorca she knows is actually originally from the mirror universe and has been manipulating events to get back to the mirror universe while also getting close to her.
Lorca escapes from the agony booth. What a great, what a great ending to that description. Yeah. Oh my God. And I know what my favorite part of this Wikipedia description is. What’s your favorite part? I think it’s the Lorca escapes from the agony booth at the end. But what, what is it for you? For me? Tyler Voq doesn’t even mention him.
Does not mention him. What’s up with that? Apparently the beat plot was just two B vaulting ambition directed by Hanelle Culpepper, who is from her own website, described as an energetic and unflappable director. Hanelles. Credits range from superhero action adventures to thrillers and genre films to character driven genres.
She is, and I think this is fantastic. She is the director who piloted the Star Trek Picard. Premier making her the first woman to launch a new star Trek series in its 53 year history. Hmm. In 2021, she won an NAACP image award for outstanding directing for her work. On the episode in 2022, she was nominated again for her work on Netflix’s True Story starting Kevin Hart.
And Wesley Snipes. Currently she is directing hi. And executive producing Neil Gaiman’s, Amazon series and Anansi Boys. And the episode was written by Jordan Bernardino, who is known for Star Trek Discovery, glamorous and Quantico among other projects. Lots of television credits on his on IMDB page. This episode dropped on January 21st, 2018, and stars as usual, Sonequa, Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, Mary Weissman, and Jason Isaacs.
And at the time of original broadcast, January 21st, 2018, Matt, you were finally putting Rockstar Behind you. You were moving on from that, and there were 38 million streams of this song, of which, if I remember correctly, you were responsible for about 37 million of them. It was of course Finesse by Bruno Mars featuring Cardi B and the movies we were all lining up for the third week in a row to see Jumanji.
Welcome to the jungle. It stays at number one for the third week after making another 19 million. The fact that it earns the number one slot for a third week with only 19 million gives you a sense of what kind of movie month January typically is. And on television, we’ve already talked in previous weeks about shows like friends.
Grey’s Anatomy being the number one and number two, most watch programs, the number three most watch program in 2018. 13 Reasons Why on Netflix and from the news on this day, January 21st, 2018. There was a government shutdown currently going on, which was shutting down everything that was federally controlled.
So there’d be national parks, monuments, various services to veterans, uh, homeless. Et cetera. Bitter bickering muddies the path to ending the government shutdown. An article by Thomas Kaplan and Cheryl Gay Stoleberg, which examined how with the government shutdown and the two parties faulting each other.
Senators from both parties were looking for an agreement to end the crisis. How corruption and cronyism. In banking fueled Iranian protests, thousands lost their savings in the collapse of Shady Banks, part of a broader economic system plagued by inside insider dealing, mismanagement and inefficiency.
This, of course, is not just. An issue in Iran. It is a global issue and has impacted countries like Lebanon. Most recently, there was also a story about Congressman combating harassment, settled his own misconduct case, and a story by Katie Rogers and Kenneth Vogel. The story was about representative Patrick Meehan, a republican member of the House Ethics Committee, who used taxpayer money to pay a former aid who had seen him as a father figure.
Before he made unwanted advances on the younger man onto our discussion of today’s episode, breaking things down into just. Bullet points. Mm-hmm. Instead of trying to wind our way through what is a very twisty, turny episode. There’s a lot going on in this one, so I’m suggesting we start with the biggest piece of the puzzle.
Yes. Lorca. Let’s talk. Yeah. About the Lorca of it all. This episode ends with a realization by Burnham clicking things into place of, wait a minute. He has said things like this, this, this, and this. The goal is this, this, this, and this, and the fact that she discovers in this reality that the powers that be in the mirror universe are aware of the main universe.
Mm-hmm. They understand that it exists because they have ripped technology from the defiant, which happened originally. The Defiant disappeared in the original series. It was tied into enterprise brilliantly, I think in the episode where the defiant is pulled into the mirror universe. Mm-hmm. But it’s also incorporates some time travel because it pulls it back into the past of the mirror universe.
And now here we have Burnham, realize everybody here knows about the parallel universes and understands exactly where Burnham and her ship is from. And it’s these elements when she puts them all together that makes her realize the Lorca that she has thought is her universe is Lorca, is in fact the Lorca from the mirror universe.
I remember what I thought when this revelation was made the first time watching it, what was it like for you? It at this point, they had dropped enough hints, like the episode before and the one before that that I had a sense that he was not, Who he says he is. What that actually meant. I didn’t know. So it was still a very surprising moment for me.
But I, it’s like I, I had a sense that something like this was about to drop by the time they did it. Um, cause they had dropped enough clues so it didn’t catch me completely off guard. Did it catch you completely off guard the first time watching this? I missed the most critical element, I think, which is before, at the end of the Klingon war, when they’re using the discoveries jump drive.
To do 130 plus quick jumps around the Klingon ship and then they go on one last jump and Lorca clearly on my three watch. I saw it. He clearly is screwing around with the navigation. I missed that. It was too subtle for me in that moment. Okay, so. That being missed for me, Lorca maintained a sense of like, he’s playing a lot of things close to the vest and I thought he was more trying to, I got the sense that what he was trying to do was more control, his ability to stay captain of the discovery.
Right. Because he foresaw losing that because of the admiral who. Admiral Cornwell who had said, I’m gonna remove you from this. She’s now been rescued, and I saw this all as him trying desperately to do something to maintain his captaincy more than anything else. Well, that’s, that’s what I, I had taken the first watch I had thought the same exact thing, but the, the last like episode and the one before that.
With the coordinate change he made and some of the comments he had made, it was clear to me my first watching through that he was up to something to get them to the mirror universe. Mm. But I didn’t think, oh, he’s from the mirror universe. Yeah. Like, so that part really surprised me, but it was like he had a motivation to get there, and I just didn’t know what that was until this reveal happened.
So I was just as surprised. Just surprised in a different way. Yeah. So it’s kinda like, oh, oh, he’s from here. Okay. That makes a lot of sense. It’s fascinating too because it is such a huge reveal without him being the prime player in the episode. Other than a scene where he is being tortured for very specific reasons by the captain of the Charon who is basically taking out his anger at the fact that Lorca in the past and, and really kind of a grimy character study in this one, Georgiou, reveals that Lorca had a history of grooming younger women.
Mm-hmm. And it is really kind of a gross reveal that. Strangely meshes perfectly with the Lorca we’ve seen throughout the series. Yeah. He has this eye on Burnham, and one of the things that Burnham flashes back to when she’s thinking about him is the fact that he says, I chose you, but not for the reasons you think.
It’s this kind of smarm to his entire, his captaincy always seemed a little bit instinctive and swaggery as opposed to mm-hmm. Meticulous. And while being meticulous, while being very demanding as a captain, I think that one of the things that this episode does really well and what the show does really well.
It kind of undercuts the original series presentation of what the mirror universe would work like. The original series presents a mirror universe in which humans, the, the, the brilliance of a Captain Kirk turns into a megalomaniac in the mirror universe. That episode leaves you with the questionnaire mark of how could humanity operate at any kind of high technical level.
Yeah. If you had that kind of chaos, Erupting from every individual in the mirror universe, right? It really kind of leaves you with a question mark. This episode and the entire series of discovery based upon this episode, I think does a fantastic job of reaffirming how you could have some order in the mirror universe, despite the fact that humanity is driven by such megalomaniac drives because Lorca undercuts.
The statement by Spock at the end of the original series, where in that episode, Spock says, it is easier for a civilized man to behave like a savage than it is for a savage to behave like a civilized man. Mm-hmm. Spock in that moment is saying like somebody from the Mirror universe can’t hide who they are here.
Lorca is a demonstration. Did that, that is not true. Lorca in this way, in this sense, in this moment, is a brilliant captain. Because for the entirety of this series, up to this point, he has been able to convince everybody in the federation running on his swagger and his instinct to be able to dodge accusations.
To Dodge Dodge confusion it. When you find this twist in this episode, it reframes the conversation he has with Cornwell. In which she says, I’ve been thinking about our earlier lives together, and he gets this look on his face that he’s just like, she better not ask me about a specific. And she says, you don’t remember, and he says, well, I’m just thinking about how young we were.
He manages to dodge the issues. He’s been able to do this obviously time and time again and perform really well while also outside. He can’t stay inside the lines, but I think that it really does demonstrate that the mirror universe’s reality from the original series could work. If there are individuals like Lorca or like Georgiou who are able to with enough time and power hold things together because it really is ultimately relying on the strong person theory of history, strong enough elements within the mirror universe, yeah.
Can keep chaos from overwhelming everything. I was gonna say that this ties in way too well into the, I mean, this was 2018 when this was made public time, what was happening in the world around that time. Yes. It’s like it is coming through this so clear because the whole strong man. Persona is all based on lying, cheating, stealing, and manipulating.
Yes, the the master, the person who can just lie and twist things and make it, and then basically gaslight you when you try to catch ’em in the lie and they can just twist right back out of it again, and they just keep lying and twisting and manipulating to the point where there’s so much confusion around what’s going on that you kind of lose sight of the fact that they’re manipulating you.
Yes. Lorca is the epitome of that. He’s teaching a master class in it. Yeah. To take what you’re saying to the next, like most like pull back the curtains and really look at it for what it was. Yeah. They fictionalized what us political life was. Yep. In 2018, they, they. There was an element to the emergence of Trump as president of the United States that didn’t feel like through the looking glass for a huge portion of the United States, and this was a moment where they fictionalized it in a brilliant way of to say, how can somebody with personality traits that do not feel geared for leadership trust?
Like how does somebody like that operate? In the world that we know, and then they fictionalized it beautifully with a character who is apparently a groomer. Mm-hmm. A abusive, manipulative man who has a history of leaving people in his wake. The torture scene with the captain of the Charon is effectively like, they do not say specifically what happened to that man’s sister.
But she’s probably dead. She’s dead. They don’t, they don’t have to. The fact that he’s his, say her name, say her name, and he never does. Yeah. And the last thing he does is he basically kills the captain and then says her name. It was like, he kills the captain and as the captain is dying, says her name and says, and as, and I really did like her.
But as usually happens, something better came along. That’s something better Reading. between the Lines for me is Burnham. Yeah. The, the Burnham from the The Mirror. Universe. And. The plans that were hatched between him and Burnham to overthrow Georgiou are, is the pin that Georgiou is holding onto in her anger toward Burnham, which the main universe Burnham does not know about.
So she walks into the the meal where she has to eat the Kelpian ganglia, the whole. Horror of that scene I thought was disgustingly under understated. Yeah, it was, uh, the, the presentation of of Burnham to the emperor. And the emperor is very kind like pick one and she picks a Kelpian out of three. And then only later are we seeing the Kelpian being served with her offering part of the brainstem to Burnham.
Like the nightmarish moment for that. The, the fact that she eats it, the fact that she chokes it down. Yeah. It’s the, there’s a lot of, it’s a horror movie in effect. It’s, you don’t know when the shoe is gonna drop, but the shoe does drop because Georgiou says, You were going over, wait, you and Lorca were working against me and I know this, so how dare you come back here and pretend that we can return to anything looking like normal.
Do we want to pivot and talk about Georgiou? Cause we’re talking about it right now. I think we do because I don’t know, I, I just eat up everything Michelle Yo does and yeah, it looks to me like she’s having a blast. Yeah. Playing a horrible person. She looks like she’s having such, so much fun playing this horrible, horrible human being and, It’s delicious.
Watching her on the show is just absolutely fantastic. She does a great job of portraying strength leadership and the fact that there’s so much fear in the people around her. Mm-hmm. And with just a subtle look, you can tell that she’s like, terrifying everybody. It’s like, sh her performance in this is so perfect.
And in that scene when she’s, I dunno if you caught it, when, when, uh, Burnham’s eating the ganglia and she’s literally choking it down. Looks like she wants to vomit. Yeah. It cuts to Georgiou and the look on Georgiou’s face. Is a complete pleasure cuz she picks up on that Burnham did not wanna be eating this.
Yeah. And is choking it down. And she, I can’t remember what she said, but she takes a big swig of whatever wine she’s drinking and it looks like Georgiou’s just eating up the fact that she’s making Burnham Squirm. Yeah. And it’s just like, it’s, it, it’s so great. I just absolutely love her performance in this and not to get ahead of ourselves, but her character is one of my favorite characters on the show.
It’s fantastic. And it, she’s such, she’s one of those, it’s like Gaius from Battlestar Galactica, one of these. Villains, these people that they’re not good, but man, you just love it when they’re on screen. Yeah. Because they like steal the limelight. They’re so, they’re so, you love hating them. It’s just they’re, they’re lovable, bad characters.
There’s so much more, there’s so much more compelling storytelling to be told Yeah. Around the broken figure than there is the virtuous figure with. Without a weakness. Yeah. The virtuous figure who has no weakness, who has no chink in their armor, is less interesting from us as a, from a storytelling perspective, you want to see, even if the character doesn’t realize it, you want to see redemption.
You want to see them climb to a different level. I, mm-hmm. In my own. Storytelling. This is, you know, a strange segue maybe for the listeners, but as I’ve mentioned before, I, I write fiction and one of my favorite elements of my new series is that I have antagonists in the first book. They are not villains, they are antagonists.
There’s a difference. The villain is the one who twirls the mustache and says, I’m going to do this because I love being bad. The antagonist is the one who says, I know I’m right. I know I’m right. I have reasons for doing what I’m doing. And that is so much more compelling. Mm-hmm. And from a creator perspective, it’s a lot more fun to create that because then that gives you the opportunity as I’m doing, and then future books with some of these antagonists from the first book, they, in some cases, are gonna become allies.
The relationships will evolve because the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and that’s what is happening here. Georgiou is presented in the main universe. And looking back, it is strange to say they introduced a captain in Georgiou in the first episode that you legitimately like. You pre, you’re presented with her and Burnham as a pair.
Clearly she’s a mother figure for Burnham. And you understand like, I know why Burnham has an allegiance here. I like this captain. And then she’s dead. Mm-hmm. By the end of the first episode, she’s gone. That’s an audacious first step. In storytelling for discovery, for it to come back around by them introducing a character, which was probably a delight for Michelle Yow to play because playing the captain as she was presented in those first episodes, she is an extremely gracious, respectful, understanding, and empathetic person, and we are not given any sense of any kind of weakness.
And over time that would’ve worn. Incredibly thin. Yeah. Here we’re presented with the opposite of that. It is Machiavellian. She’s conniving. She is very powerful and very quick to use that power brilliant scene where it’s her and a room full of advisors. Oh. When she kills them off and she assassinates all of them because Burnham drops the news.
There’s a parallel universe, and that’s where I’m from. Georgiou can’t let the parallel universe reality get out. She kills everybody but one and says, I’ll make you a governor of Andor if you clean up this mess and never say anything about this ever again. I love that scene. Let me on that scene specifically, there’s a couple of scenes that have happened in the Mirror universe that are downright gory and graphic, and that’s one scene where you see this thing going through everybody’s head and blood and.
Brain matter coming out the other side. It’s, it’s disgusting. It’s like, we’ve never seen this in star Trek. I actually really appreciated that they did this because this is the mirror universe. It’s supposed to be horrific, and they’re making those torture chambers look finally look good. Brutal. Yeah, absolutely brutal.
And then the ganglia, uh, like we’re eating our slaves and then the, and then the whole through the head. It’s like they’re, they’re setting this up as a horror show. It’s like the Mirror universe is. Terrifying and you should be very afraid of being here. So it’s like I, this is one of those times where I think the gore and the being graphic actually helps a lot because it sets the stage in a, this is an incredibly dangerous universe.
They’re in stakes are higher than you’ve ever seen. So it’s like it’s, it’s a great way to kind of set that stage. Yeah. It was the same thing with the Klingons when they were showing the Klingon bodies, like all those bodies that were being like torn apart and eaten and stuff like that. Yeah. It’s like, wow, we’ve never seen something like this in star Trek.
It helps us set the Klingons apart. Yeah. In a way they’ve never been set apart before. It’s like, these are vicious beings, so it’s like, I really do appreciate that this show was pushing the boundaries a little bit of what Star Trek has done in the past. Because you kind of need that, cuz it sets, it sets the stage for danger and you’re, you’re concerned about the characters then that you care about.
You don’t wanna see ’em get hurt, but it’s, it’s literally pushing Georgiou’s coldness of the way. She just flicks that thing and just like, yeah. Catches it and is like, okay. Let’s move on. We’re gonna, I got a plan. You know, she’s conniving something, but you don’t know what she’s conniving that what she’s pulling together.
But you can see that the strings are getting pulled, which is great. Yeah, it’s two things occurred to me while you were talking, which was this is enterprise existed in the 21st century, but this is literally the push of star Trek into the 21st century. Enterprise was not. Enterprise was basically late 20th century storytelling.
Yep. In the vein of Voyager and next generation DS nine. Whereas this is a huge leap forward into. What depictions will look like, the kinds of language that are used. There’s some swearing and star Trek in this. A lot of people push back against that. I, I don’t push back on that. I think there’s an aspect to what is the new normal, what is the new, you know, like the main framing of storytelling and.
Storytelling looks different now than it did in the year 2000, in the same way that it looked different than it did in the late sixties, so to say, oh, this isn’t Star Trek. Well, by that measure, next Generation is also not Star Trek. Star Trek is only a show from the late sixties. The other thing that occurred to me was the power that Georgiou the Emperor has in this episode when Burnham negotiates to give her the Spore drive technology.
It presents a level of terror to the entire galaxy. Yep. That is really remarkable because the Charon, as it’s shown, I. Is a planet killing ship the star it has what looks like, I love that. A star as the power source. It’s kind of hearkening back to what is said about in the main universe. It’s revealed that Romulan starships, during the era of next generation are powered by effectively a artificial black hole.
That is what they are doing. They have an, they have a drive that sustains its power from creating an artificial black hole. This, to me, looks like that kind of level of. Of technology that is terrifying in its in its aspect and the idea that a gigantic ship like this would show up with a star at its heart, but could also effectively just blink out of space and show up anywhere and reign the weaponry that it has down on any planet.
This would effectively give Georgiou the control of the entire galaxy. So this is a level of. Of terror as far as like what does this mean? The deal that Burnham makes? I wanna get back. You can share your information with me. I’ll give you the spore drive technology. Is she legitimately willing to do that at this point?
We don’t know if she’s legitimately willing to keep that deal because I think there’s gotta be a part of Burnham that’s like, I can’t do that to this galaxy. I can’t do that to everybody here. That would be a nightmare. Yeah. So. That all being said, we’ve talked now about the, the parallel universe of it all the, the knowledge of the parallel universe of the main universe.
We’ve talked about Georgiou, we’ve talked about Lorca. We haven’t yet talked about Stamets and Stamets experience here, which is, that sounds like a Broadway show. Buried. Yeah. The Stamets experience, the, the Lev. And considering who you have playing Stamets and, uh, his, his husband. Yeah. Two Broadway actors. I mean, it could be a Broadway show.
Um, here we have folded into, The very physical story of, and physical in a lot of different ways. Lorca being physically tortured, Burnham being in physical danger. The the reality of like what is going on in the parallel universe as far as huge steps toward gaining power, manipulating through power, and using that power in horrible ways.
Stamets is on a metaphysical journey. And it is this incorporation of his mirror universe self who at first blush in this episode, they don’t seem to be as far apart as like a Georgiou from a Georgiou. You have the two Georgious at such extreme ends for each other. As far as ethical and Machiavellian Stamets, though in both universes.
Seems to have one core element. I will do anything in pursuit of the truth. Yeah. And so it has led both of them to the same moment. They’ve both found themselves inside the mycelium network. We know that the main universe is Stamets ends up there because he has hooked himself up to become part of the spore drive.
It isn’t quite so clear what the other Stamets has. Done because there is no Spore drive in the Mirror universe, but that Stamets has done something through experimentation to effectively corrupt it, get himself trapped, and he is the cause. And I thought that this was a fantastic part of this like planting of seeds throughout previous episodes.
And then here we have the conclusion of it being the mirror universe. Stamets saying, I have been sending you these messages, these glimpses. Of my reality in attempts to get connect with you because I needed your help. So it is this. Every time Stamets woke up and mis stuck Tilly for a captain and made references to the forest and all these sort of strange things that didn’t make any sense were the results of the mirror universe.
So, One of the things that is being broadcast at this point, I think in a very clear subtext, is they’re saying any use of the spore drive involves in the mirror universe getting closer and closer. It becomes part of the danger of the spore drive. And I think at this point in my reading, like the creators of the show knew that they were playing with something that would be a.
Finite story of the spore drive. It didn’t feel like they were doing something that they were, it can’t, this is not gonna be something that we’re gonna have to explain why we don’t have spore drives in the future. This is very clearly the reason why the spore drive brings with it an incredible danger of being able to flip into an alternate universe.
Into a parallel, into a parallel timeline that’s too much that you can’t, well, there’s can’t, there’s control that there’s. There’s also a clear tie to like, environmentalism here, cuz it’s like whatever is being, whatever they’re doing with the, the Mycelin network is harming it. Yeah. And it’s, it’s corrupting it, it’s killing it.
And they make the statement of, if the Mycelin network dies, everything else dies with it. Right. It’s like this could, this could end everything if we’re not careful. So they’re setting it up also from that point of view of humans. Clumsily. Just doing things that satisfy our needs for the moment, not thinking about the big picture.
And then we end up in a situation where it’s like, oh crap, we just put ourselves into a bad situation that we might drive ourselves extinct. So it’s kind of, it’s an environmental message that’s also coming through it as well, but it’s being done in a very subtle, clever way. Yeah. The way they’re, they’re talking about it.
Yeah. Which I liked. Um, so it’s very, it’s very clear. Right from this episode. Why we’ve never heard of the spore drive before and why we’ll never hear of it again because Yeah, it can’t, it can’t exist because it’s so delicate that you can cause damage, it can merge parallel universes together. There’s a lot of danger to it.
It is a much more compelling Yeah, and longer story thread in the form of like, this is a thing and it exists for multiple episodes. And the danger is not abundantly clear, but once it becomes clear, it all makes sense. It is so much more compelling than the only other episode I can think of that did something similar, which was a later episode of Next Generation where it is revealed that warp engines are effectively stretching parts of space and there’s a danger to it.
And. That felt like a clumsily put together, like environmental message that was just like, there’s something important to pay attention to here, thud. Because even when that episode first aired that next generation episode, I remember saying to myself like, they’ve just introduced something. As a drop in a specific episode, that should have huge ramifications moving forward, but they would never talk about it ever again.
This is the opposite of that. This is something where inherent to the very thing that is driving the ship, they have made it a part of the bigger storytelling so that when they say, uhoh, this might not be something we can use. You understand why? Mm-hmm. So, The vision that Stamets has, and I think that it’s, I think there’s a lot in there, which is depicted as almost a literal reality, but I take it as all very allegorical.
And this is metaphysical. This is two consciousnesses coming together and kind of with the Mycelium Network’s involvement in being the connection between them. Reality forms around the consciousnesses is my understanding of this because it is. They’re suddenly in the ship, they’re in discovery. Stamets recognizes that.
The parallel Stamets says, yes, the Mycelin Network is helping you with this. But then there’s the vision. They go to the engineering room and Stamets has the vision of his husband walking through. Hallway and follows him. And it becomes a little bit like, once again, an Alice in Wonderland Chase. It is like the white rabbit running through the tunnel, Stamets chasing after him and when he finally catches up to him, it is in their apartment, which at first has this kind of horror movie, decrepit aspect.
Yeah. To it. Which then flips almost instantly and seamlessly into very placid daily life. They’re brushing their teeth and they’re having conversations and it is an interesting moment when it is his husband saying, I’m dead. And you realize through the storytelling now that the Stamets who seemed to be so detached, the eyes are actually white.
All of that was not a Stamets who was unaware of the reality around him. He was just inundated by multiple realities at that point because, My understanding, and you can correct me if you think I’m wrong, my understanding is Stamets knows that his husband died. He knows his husband was murdered by Tyler Uhhuh because part of him was still conscious of what was going on around him.
And that is now coming into his understanding through his consciousness, framing it with the mycelial network as this moment to say goodbye. That’s not how I took it, because the language and the dialogue of what they were saying to each other was to me, I took it as this is the doctor’s consciousness.
He is, he is in the mycelial network. He, I can’t remember what the actual phrasing he said. It was along the lines of, it’s kind of like the Mycelin network exists out of time and space. It’s its own thing. Everything is there all at once and everything is not there all at once. And so he is there. That is his consciousness talking to his husband.
It’s not a, it’s not Stamets mind putting him there to have that conversation. It actually is him there talking to him. So I took it as, it’s basically the ghost of his partner having a conversation with him. So it’s like, for me, the way I interpreted that whole scene was he’s really here having this conversation.
There’s something. Beyond our understanding in the Mycelin network that’s making this possible, that the connection between them is so strong, that’s why he’s there. Um, trying to help his partner Stamets get through this, right? That’s the way I interpreted it. Ultimately, whichever of us is more accurate. The end result is the same.
Yes, it is the Stamets of it all being told you are the one who is unconscious right now. You are the one who needs to wake up. Mm-hmm. And it becomes, again, the Alice in Wonderland of it all. The magic of simply like, if I can just. Bring my consciousness back to myself, then I can be awake. And in his ability to do that, both he and the mirror Stamets both wake up.
They have the moment where the mirror Stamets is who is clearly infected by whatever his experiment was. Uh, yelling at the main Stamets, you’ve gotta come back because we have to get out of here cuz if we don’t, we will die. And then when he wakes up on his ship, he wakes up and says he did it. Like mm-hmm.
This is a moment where he’s like, he did it. Whatever had to happen, he was able to do it. And Stamets, it’s waking up as well. And their awareness of each other is going to be an element that I’m sure is gonna play out in the next few episodes. I’ll be honest. Mm-hmm. I happily don’t remember a lot of what comes next.
I remember, yeah. A few glimpses, I remember major plot points. Yeah. But the details of some of this are, are turning out to be new for me. So lastly, I want to get your thoughts very quickly about the one element that was completely devoid of any reference. In the Wikipedia description, poor Voq, Voq, Tyler, the ultimate resolution to his story.
What did you think about, first of all, what did you think about what they did with L’Rell in, with, uh, Saru coming and arguing with her? You’ve got to do something here. And what did you think about the conclusion of the Voq? Storyline. I overall, I really did like this. There were elements of, um, the debate between L’Rell and Saru about you need to help him.
Whatever he is, Klingon human, whatever he is, he’s an incredible agony. You gotta help him. And I love that L’Rell, typical Klingon. This is like the Klingons that we know. It’s like, well, he sacrificed himself for the Klingon cause. If he’s suffering, it’s, that’s, that’s fine. He’s a warrior, so I liked her response.
The one part that felt a little like, would Saru actually do that was when he, when he transported Tyler into the cell with her. But they set it up in a really good way because Tyler was becoming so outta control. They couldn’t safely hold him in the Yeah. The, uh, medical Bay anymore. They had to put him somewhere where they could keep him.
From hurting people. So it kind of kinda makes sense why Saru is like, Hey, let’s put him in the cell with L’Rell, cuz maybe it will snap her out of it. Maybe she’ll be willing to finally help. Yeah, I did love how he was it. It’s fun to see Saru take that captain’s role. Yeah. And do a really good job at it.
He’s really, he’s actually a very good leader and the way he manipulated that whole sequence of events to try to get her to help and it worked. I, I liked. And then the, the flip side of it is what happens to Tyler is basically the two sides, the human side and the Klingon side are warring with each other.
And, and one has to go, one has to be sacrificed to try to save him the being, whatever that ends up being. The one part of this I didn’t like, and this kind of taps back into what I’ve said before about the Klingons portrayal in all of the series, there’s so much makeup on these people. There’s no subtlety to the performance and there isn’t a, there’s not a really good, you can’t really read what they’re thinking as well as somebody without all that makeup.
So when L’Rell is doing the whole thing in the medical bay trying to save him, they’re implying at the end when she drops to her knees and she does her Klingon yell, she’s mourning cuz she knows she just killed Voq. Yeah. And Tyler is the one that’s gonna be left, and so you can, she’s mourning, but it, it was so muddy and messy and it was, the subtlety wasn’t there, so it was really hard to tell what was actually happening in that scene.
I only know this because I know what happens, so it’s like rewatching it. I was like, oh, wow. That was really kind of like not clear what just happened in that scene at. All, and they, with just some more different editing, different directing, different, slightly different acting, they could have portrayed it in a way that was a little clearer as to what was going, that she was having to make a decision as to, one of thems gonna go, one of them’s gonna live.
And then when she drops to her knees, it would’ve been a little more dramatic of like, you could maybe have felt a little bit of her loss. But none of that came through to me. It was just, it was all just kinda like, oh, this is stuff that’s happening in front of me. It’s like there was not a, a deep core of emotion to what was, what was going on.
I. I feel like you and I saw the same thing, and the way I interpreted it was it was kind of a Klingon whimper as opposed to a Klingon yell. It was, it felt like it was lacking. And I think you, I think you hit the nail on the head, um, without the actress being able to convey through subtle facial features.
Um, and this goes back to like, Reasons why maybe the next generation level of prosthetic for a Klingon is a better version because mm-hmm. You get the actor’s facial responses, you know, so much of storytelling on television and movie is body language, and here you’re left with those moments. They’re, they’re expecting you to pick up on flashes of imagery around Voq and flashes of.
Showing what is supposed to be a medical readout of a brain with bad white lights on the brain, and then the white lights are disappearing, and we’re supposed to know. That means that the Klingon inside has died and. What really sends that message of the Klingon side has died is that she does the Klingon death yell where, and we’ve seen this going the first time you see this is Next generation Worf does this with a couple of other Klingons.
After they have a Klingon die in the medical bay, and they pry the eyes open, and then the Klingons look to the ceiling and scream. And they say, that’s how we notify the afterlife that a warrior is coming. Well, here’s like, That’s what’s happening here, but it feels like a whimper because it feels like you’re watching, watching, watching.
Oh, he died, as opposed to you’re watching, watching, watching. Yes. With understanding throughout that he’s dying. If this had been done on Next Generation or any other Star Trek show, this would’ve probably been the A plot. Of an episode. Yeah. Because it would’ve gone into his head and you’d have the actor, Tyler, playing the actor Voq and the two of them wrestling each arguing each other, fighting, wrestling with each other and having dialogue.
And like you can see it’s one Id fighting another id, and it’s like they’re kind of fighting each other and who’s gonna win? And then it’s like her on the outside trying to save them. And then one of them on the inside disappears. And then we as a viewer know, wow, this has been a major struggle. Yeah, he, Tyler just went out.
She drops her knees and screams. It’s like it would’ve been an episode to itself or an a plot of another episode, but they seem to have shortchange this entire plot cuz they wanted to fast forward it. Yeah, just to get it done. It felt like it was getting it done. It felt like it was getting it out of the way.
And to me, this goes back to something we talked about before, how much of what Brian Fuller envisioned originally, what the story arc would be. Mm-hmm. How much of it was held onto, how much of it was discarded, and how much of it was shifted too late in making episodes because, well, I will, this feels like the cl, I actually, at this point in this episode, forgot that the Klingon war was now over.
Like they end the Klingon war so quickly in the episode. Yeah. Where they do the final battle with all the warping and then they go to the alternate universe that you don’t even have time to digest that while they’re in this alternate universe that war is done. And I found myself like, oh yeah, the war is over.
The Klingons lost. I, I like that escaped me and. I think there are two ways you could go with the episode that you just described, which I think would’ve been a lot of fun and very next generation. A, the other thing that Next generation also might have done would’ve been have more dialogue amongst doctors and people in the medical bay.
Yes, yes. To have L’Rell doing so. Yes. And have her say like, this is originally Voq. Voq must survive. And having. Everybody in the room debate like, but he looks like Tyler. And she’s like, I know what I made. I made this out of Voq. Voq should live. And then have her start doing the thing and have her to her chagrin, discover, oh, oh, Voq can’t live.
What I’m doing to remove Tyler is going to kill him. The only thing I can do to save this body is to let Tyler be the survivor. Right That would’ve been conveyed through like, you’re gonna kill him. I don’t want to kill him. It is more, it is worth this body living for Voq to die because at least then I know that what was Voq exists.
Have her say something like that and have her say, and have her make some sort of statement about ultimately have her say, and I think this would be very compelling for this character to say, what I’m doing right now is not Klingon. Voq would hate me for this. And have her then do it. Yeah. And save Tyler.
That would’ve been a, an incredible turning point for her and then for Tyler coming out of it, cuz Tyler, and I think the, the acting by Latif in this episode is terrific. And he goes in and out of Klingon and is quoting Calles and then comes back in, is just like, sir, you gotta help me please. Like, and then goes back to cursing him and Klingon.
I thought it was fantastic. This is exactly my one big complaint about this entire show for the entire run of this show is they tend to fast forward a lot of plot points. Yeah. And a lot of, and a lot of character relationships in a way that short changes them and then they still expect the payoff of that.
To have played out. Yeah. And so by the end of the series, we end up in a place where they’re being so sentimental about different relationships and different characters. It’s like, we barely know that character because you’ve shortchanged them the entire series, and now you’re expecting me to love them as much as I love Burnham.
It’s like, what is, what is going on here? There’s a lot of shortchanging that goes on the show, I think. Yeah, I agree. And I think that that’s, that’s a symptom of, I mean, 24 episodes per season. Too many, sometimes 12 is too few. And I think there’s, there’s a benefit to other models of production. Like in the uk it’s not unusual for one season to be six episodes, another season to be eight, another to be two.
It’s, you don’t have to tell the story in the way that makes the most sense and what you described. And we are. I’m not joking listeners, literally years from talking about this, but what you just said is one of my main complaints about Picard. Mm-hmm. The second season of Picard for me, had lots of, well, you know, we’re in love now.
And I’m like, what? What? Yeah. There were moments. It was just like, what are they like hand waving and, and why are characters making leaps? And it’s all born out of, well, we’re doing this in 10 episodes. We don’t have Yep, we don’t have time. And in that case, it’s a weakness. It’s like trying to pass a book report by reading the Cliffs notes.
Like Yes. Yes. If you wanna read Moby Dick, read Moby Dick. Yeah, don’t read the Cliffs notes and think you’ve read Moby Dick. Yeah. So that’s, that’s a complaint here. Um, so listeners, viewers, what did you think? Do you agree with Matt and me that there was a little bit too much hand waviness over some of these elements, like L’Rell the end of Voq, which ends in kind of a strange whimper as opposed to a Klingon Yell?
Let us know in the comments and don’t forget. Next time we’re gonna be talking about what’s past is prologue. Let us know in the comments what do you think that episode is gonna be about? Once again, wrong answers. Only before we sign off, Matt, what do you have coming up on your main channel that you wanna let the listeners know about?
Uh, the, by the time this is out, I have a episode about small modular nuclear fission reactors. The future of nuclear is most likely gonna be very small. Nuclear power plants that are quick, cheap, and easy to implement. It’s, it’s a really interesting topic and a very interesting debate that has to happen around how we get clean energy out.
As quickly as we can. So, uh, definitely check that one out. As for me, please drop by my website, sean Ferrell dot com, or you can go to your local bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble. Anywhere you pick up your books, including the public library, you should be able to find my books. Don’t forget, the Sinister Secrets of Singe, which has been out for less than a month now, is available on bookstores now for the young readers or just the readers who just enjoy adventure.
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