'Star Trek: Discovery' Review: "Vaulting Ambition" Turns A Major Character On His Head

Star Trek: Discovery, you wild minx! How could you make me first suspect Lorca, and then learn to trust him, and then tell me I was right all along? I've been bamboozled in the best possible way! May the gif of Charles Foster Kane forever clap forcefully from the balcony for you.

Captain Lorca’s double betrayal

It seems the only character Jason Isaacs every portrays in Hollywood is the bad guy. I mean, I get why — he does it so well, and he keeps up his winning streak in Star Trek: Discovery as the bad Captain Lorca. However, I was willing to think that he was specifically cast for this role not just because of his experience at playing villainy, but because it'd allow him to play against type.

Star Trek: Discovery is all about messing with the preconceived notions and expectations we have for a Star Trek series, and one of those expectations is for the captain to be the good guy. However, Isaacs as Lorca was supposed to be a big clue for us about Lorca's true intentions, if not a huge red flag. We are told from his acting resume to expect him to be a villain, and yet we are told by our Star Trek conditioning to expect Lorca to be, at the end of the day, a good guy. Maybe he's a captain who's too overzealous, too headstrong, but at the end of the day, he's supposed to be good, right?

We were wrong, like we were about so many things with this series.

Looking back on it now, it's almost hilarious how there were so many clues staring us in the face, but the show lulled us into a faint stupor. We were guided along and, at some points, even made to feel guilty about ever assuming Lorca was anything other than a wayward captain finally reorienting himself and finding his path once again. For awhile, the show actually presented him that way. The hypnotism was complete.

But again, let's look back at what led us to this point. Lorca specifically choosing Michael Prime for duty instead of prison, his reasoning not making sense unless closely inspected. Lorca grooming Michael Prime on Starfleet, just as he'd groomed Mirror Michael through her childhood. (His fascination and twisted love for Michael is also a Sweeney Todd-esque Judge Turpin/Johanna situation isn't it? That makes him even creepier.) Lorca's impulsiveness while acting as Captain, his rash decision-making that put Stamets at risk. And of course, his blasted eyes. It's funny how we were led to believe his eye problem was an injury.

Of course, with us realizing the Lorca we thought was Lorca Prime is actually Mirror Lorca, we can only assume we might come to know who the Prime Lorca was or is. There has to be one, since Mirror Lorca impersonated a captain. So where is Prime Lorca? And, if we ever find him (or if he even exists), how do his transgressions match up to Mirror Lorca's?

Eating Kelpian

One would think that the most disgusting parts of Star Trek: Discovery would be the scenes featuring death and killing. Indeed, those moments are horrific and gut-wrenching. But the most disgusting part of the show so far occurred in this episode, when Michael realized she was eating a Kelpian soup, and that the soup contained none other than Saru himself.

I felt nauseous for Michael as she tried to convincingly chew on poor Saru's body parts. I'm sure she had to have thrown that up somewhere. Otherwise, she has a stomach of steel.

That moment in the episode, though, reinforces just how terrifying and inhumane the Terran Empire is. Most importantly, it re-emphasizes just how low on the pecking order the Kelpians are in both the Terran Empire and the Federation. We think it's horrible the Kelpians are reduced to nameless beings fit for slaughter in the Terran Empire, but while the Federation don't eat Kelpian, the Kelpians still endure subpar treatment. If Saru is the first Kelpian in Starfleet, that gives you a clue as to how hard it has been for Kelpians to successfully make it into the Academy, what with all of the preconceptions the Federation has about Kelpians to begin with.

If the Federation knew just how awful Kelpians were treated in an alternate universe, maybe they'd lay off the Kelpians and realize maybe they have a right to be fearful of everything.

Stamets and Culber, back again

It still hurts to say goodbye to Culber (especially since the opening recap of each episode won't let us forget how he died), but at least Culber and Stamets got to have one final moment together before being parted forever.

Stamets Prime and Mirror Stamets have to find a way out of the mycelial network, and thankfully, it doesn't take long — Mirror Stamets and Culber's ghost were both fading into the network due to a fungal virus. But guess what saves the day? Not technological wizardry, but love. Stamets' love for Culber.

Apparently, Culber doesn't exist in the Mirror Universe, since Mirror Stamets had no idea who Culber is. But it was Culber's final message that Mirror Stamets needed to get home. I guess one could say that Culber had to die? But this also raises other questions. Did Georgiou Prime have to die for Mirror Georgiou to become Emperor? Did Mirror Lorca kill Prime Lorca, and did his actions start everything that happened at Binary Stars, thrusting the Prime Universe closer to a Terran-esque Klingon Empire?

I will say one thing, though: it's become apparent that, while this show doesn't exist by Back to the Future rules, there can still only be one version of each person in each Universe, otherwise, the other gets destroyed. Prime Lorca might already be dead at the hands of Mirror Lorca. Prime Georgiou died due to events precipitated by Michael's haste. Mirror Saru was turned into soup while Prime Saru gains more and more authority and self-confidence as acting Captain (and you'd be right to presume he'd become the new Captain once Mirror Lorca is arrested and/or killed for his crimes). Mirror Michael is presumed dead. And to top it all off, it would seem Mirror Voq might have escaped the Emperor's attack on the Resistance base (I'm still holding out hope!) while Prime Voq is...dead?

What’s going on with Tyler?

At the risk of gloating, everything going down with Tyler is lining up just as I wrote it would last week. I still see the end result of Tyler's life as something that rests only in his hands, but at least he got some help from L'Rell. Her hand had to be forced by Saru, though — she was willing to let him writhe in agony, but it was her unwillingness to kill Voq that kept her from going further. She wants him to remain alive, even if it's in a state of unending pain.

I believe Voq is effectively dead, but I believe that there are parts of Voq that still remain. Maybe he's not Voq, but Tyler still has a lot of mental damage that needs assessing, and even after he heals up, he'll need a lot of therapy to get back to himself for real. This is where Tyler's going to have to show up for himself.

With that said, I don't know how the Tyler/Michael relationship will end, but I do think it's going to have to. I mean, what else can happen? At the very least, Tyler can't serve on the same ship with the man whose partner he killed. I mean, technically, we could say it was Voq who did it, but was it, really? It was Tyler. He killed Culber because Culber knew too much and he wouldn't let Tyler go with Michael on the away mission. So that sin is on Tyler all the way. The only question is if he's going to run from his punishment like Lorca or face it like an honorable Starfleet officer.