Star Trek: Discovery 3.10 Terra Firma, Part 2
In last week's review, I explored the indulgency of devoting a two-part episode to Georgiou's past and a pre-season one mirror universe where storytelling real estate is at a premium and there are only thirteen episodes in total. Having watched Terra Firma, Part 2, I still feel some of those criticisms are valid; it certainly could have been handled in a single episode. But the second part also emerges as one of the stronger episodes of these season, in no small way to the investiture in Phillipa Georgiou and Michael Burnham's relationship that has been a cornerstone of Star Trek: Discovery since the very first episode.
The odd narrative structure of Terra Firma continues into the second episode; the main plot focusing on the crew of the real Discovery, the mystery of the Burn and Emerald Chain all abandoned until the final act. Picking up from last week's cliff-hanger, the mirror Michael has been imprisoned by Georgiou for her betrayal and we continue to experience the mirror universe from the former Emperor's eyes. While its clear from the audacious costumes and performances that everyone is having fun playing evil - particularly Mary Wiseman's ruthless Captain Killy - the narrative focus on Michael and Georgiou's relationship gives the episode more heart, something that will pay off in the final act.
Michael's torture is horrific to watch, but it done for more than just sensationalist barbarism and power struggles that epitomise the Terrans of the Mirror Universe. Facing the agoniser over death, Georgiou hopes to break Michael and return her to fold, undoing the mistakes of her past. Michelle Yeoh does some of her best work in this episode, battling to save the daughter she once had, desperately hoping that she will come to see her way, understanding there is more to ruling than just violence, as her experiences in the main universe have shown. Her temperament in saving Saru, convincing him that he can survive the upcoming ritual in the same way the real Saru did; this episode really explores the growth Georgiou has undertaken, making it painfully apparent that she has no place left in her past.
The Georgiou of this episode has been tempered by her experiences and her attempts to bring Michael back speak of a love and wisdom she might not have shared in her original timeline. The scene with the fireflies was incredibly touching to watch, seemingly able to win her daughter back. Of course, Michael's subsequent rebellion was inevitable - allowing for one last blood-soaked glimpse of the Mirror Universe - but at its centre was the physical and emotional struggle between Georgiou and Michael. The metaphor of them killing each other in battle was not lost. The Terrans - at least at this point - could not change - but Georgiou is no longer one of them.
Georgiou awakening just moments after she stepped through the doorway with three months' worth of experiences, offered more surprises in the form of Paul Guilfoyle's Carl. The revelation surrounding his character (I was very wrong on him being a Q) offered a wonderful throwback to one of Star Trek's greatest classic episodes, The City on the Edge of Forever. As expected, this was all the set-up for Michelle Yeoh's Section 31 spin-off series (though I'm not convinced it will go by that title). Her journey back to the point where the main and Mirror Universes diverged is sure to offer some interesting material, particularly if Carl is there to support her.
That final goodbye offered the closure that was never offered to Michael and Georgiou. It was then when Terra Firma's true purpose was revealed; not just as a back door pilot for Yeoh's new spin-off, but the culmination of Michael and Georgiou's story. Indeed, the final act might have offered glimpses into the mystery of the Federation signal and a briefing with Admiral Vance, but it's driving force was the chance to say goodbye to Phillipa Georgiou, a woman that made a huge impact on the crew of Discovery. I suspect the show will be a little less brighter now that she has gone. While I'm intrigued by where the spin-off goes next, the violent Terran Emperor will be sorely missed as Star Trek: Discovery continues its journey.