December 22, 2020

Streamin' Meemies: Star Trek Discovery Season 3 Ep 10, "Terra Firma Part 2"


In the second episode of this two-parter, we see what happened to Georgiou after she went through Carl's Door...and also get a whole lot of after-the-fact retconning and attempted cleaning-up of her character. 

Look, I understand why it was done. Michelle Yeoh is going to star in the Section 31 show, and the franchise wants to make viewers forget our Mirror Empress was a murderous, genocidal tyrant who ate Kelpiens. She needs to have a little bit of a redeemed image, after all. Still, the two scenes that strained the most to accomplish this, Georgiou's goodbye with Michael Burnham and the final round of Georgiou-toasting from the bridge crew, were way over the top. Not that the actors didn't sell them. Michelle Yeoh was excellent as usual, as was Sonequa Martin-Green in her final soliloquy expressing both sides of what Georgiou meant to her. But I was a bit irritated that there wasn't at least one or two crew members who proclaimed they weren't sorry she was gone and wouldn't miss her one bit. 

I will acknowledge that the character has taken a few baby steps towards a more enlightened worldview. Besides her relationship with Prime Michael (even as Georgiou argued her way through most of these two episodes by rubbing our Michael's nose in the fact of how much she wasn't like her mirror counterpart), I think this growth came about mostly through her relationship with Saru. That certainly moved her to reveal the secret of surviving vaha'rai to his mirror counterpart. But for the most part, you could see the manipulations of the writers behind her forced "changes," because the character was leaving Discovery and she needed to go out on a high note.

All that said, I'll watch the Section 31 show, because Michelle Yeoh. But I think the writers have a lot more they need to do with her. 

Anyway, this picks right up on the heels of Part One, with Mirror Michael thrown into the brig for treason, and then the agonizer. Georgiou has a voiceover where she reveals her thoughts: "I wish there was another language you could understand" and "Why do they only learn from pain?" Which is certainly true, in the brutal, uncompromising Mirror Universe, but also gives doubt to the assertion of Georgiou being any different than she was. Still, Georgiou continues to insist Michael can change, as she has. 

For a while, Mirror Michael seems to give in to Georgiou's demand that she re-pledge her loyalty to the Emperor and reveal (and execute) her co-conspirators, as she hunts them down one by one and tosses their bloody badges onto Georgiou's table. But after the Mirror Discovery finds one of Captain Lorca's top lieutenants (and disappointingly, we don't get to see Jason Isaacs) we see that the snake that is Mirror Michael has not shifted the color of her scales: she attempts a coup. Georgiou continues to insist that Michael can still make a different choice, and proclaims again, "I have changed. I have seen another way to live, another way to rule." Maybe so, but Mirror Michael clearly cannot. And so the two of them fight, and they end up killing each other. 

At which point Georgiou snaps back to Dannus V, lying in the snow after passing out for less than a minute. Carl is still there, and Georgiou, who in this universe is still distorting and dying, demands to know who he is and what he has done. He finally answers those questions: he is the Guardian of Forever, complete with a voiceover from the original TOS episode and a newly rendered, rather nifty CGI torus. He reveals that Georgiou is a "tricky" case, and she was sent back not to be punished, but to be weighed--whether she can change, even though what she tried in the Mirror Universe ultimately failed and Mirror Michael still died. But because of the attempts she made, and the way she treated Mirror Saru, he will send her back to "a time when the two universes are still aligned" (note he doesn't say exactly when that will be, leading to speculation she will possibly show up in the TNG/DS9 era). He spins the torus up, tells Georgiou to go when she's ready, and winks out.

Then we have the well-acted but strained goodbye scene between Georgiou and Burnham. Michael tearfully proclaims this Georgiou is "her Philippa," but I maintain she's still driven by her guilt over the death of Prime Philippa. (And in fact, Michelle Yeoh's playing this scene far more with a sense of the original Philippa rather than her mirror counterpart points out how much of a royal fuckup Prime Philippa's death was. In a lot of ways, the writers/showrunners have been trying to claw that back ever since.) Georgiou walks through the Guardian of Forever, and Michael beams back to Discovery alone. She doesn't really tell Saru what happened, only that Georgiou won't be coming back, and Saru says, "Then she is deceased." (Which from the viewpoint of the 32nd century, I suppose she is.) Finally, we have the second over the top scene of all the bridge crew toasting Georgiou, by which point I was starting to roll my eyes. 

The saving grace of the episode, for me, was the appearance of Tig Notaro as Jett Reno, showing up in Stamet's spore drive room to eat black licorice and needle him mercilessly. The Discovery sensors can't fix on the location of the Kelpien ship in the nebula, despite Adira's best efforts, until Booker appears with an Emerald Chain doodad he talks Stamets into attaching to Discovery's sensors. This boosts the signal. Book said he would "make himself useful" to Discovery, and he seems to be doing so. When Saru tells Admiral Vance about this later, the admiral has some doubts, but finally permits it. 

These two episodes gave Empress Philippa and Michelle Yeoh a proper send-off, I suppose, but hopefully we will get back to the Discovery storyline. From the previews, it looks like we're going to. 

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