Michelle Yeoh as Emperor Georgiou from Star Trek: Discovery S3 Ep 9

Terra Firma, Part 1 – Star Trek: Discovery S3, Ep 9 review

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Terra Firma, Part 1 provides another of Discovery’s lengthy pre-credits sequences, as the medical plight of the former Terran Empress Georgiou is set out. While the whole crew have time-travelled to the future, she has also hopped dimensions. Apparently, the body may tolerate one or the other, but not both – according to the Federation’s shady Kovich (David Cronenberg); surely a Section 31 Operative, if ever we saw one!

However, Discovery’s computer suggests the slim chance of a cure. The AI, as you may recall, is now sentient after merging with the Sphere data, last season’s much fought-over prize. With Admiral Vance dispensing some sage advice, overruling Captain Saru’s caution, Georgiou and Michael head off to the mysterious (and desolate) planet of Dannus V. There they find a strange little man called Carl, guarding a door…

Objects in the rear view mirror may appear closer than they are

After a series of not truly knowing what to do with Michelle Yeoh, returning the Empress to her own fascist reality really works. Ah, those dizzy days of Season One, when a Klingon war was not enough, so they threw the whole Mirror universe in too!

The Empress appears on Discovery, en route to her new imperial flagship. While backed by her loyal bodyguards, she has to deal with the troublesome Michael Burnham. Her adopted daughter has been plotting against her with Captain Gabriel Lorca (remember him?)

While visually impressive, this does all feel like a bit of a memory stretch; we are sure we will not be the only ones reaching for their boxset. There are plenty of pleasing touches though, such as the return of dead crew members from our universe. Hannah Cheeseman returns as Ariam, sans cyborg prosthetics, but this being Discovery, she’s given little or nothing to do and joins the host of named background crew. Landry (Rekha Sharma), Discovery’s first Security Chief, fares better, at least granted a few lines!

Mirror alternates only truly hit home when the original is well defined. That’s why Captain Killy, Mary Wiseman’s twisted take on Ensign Tilly, is so effective. So too with the quiet bravery of the subservient Saru. As for the rest – in a host of ill-defined background faces, who really cares about a change of facial hair or a tougher attitude?

The Burn

Early on in the episode there are a few nudges to the ongoing series arc. Book approaches Saru and offers his services and local knowledge, in appreciation for Discovery’s help saving his home world. Interestingly, he is told he must prove his worth – not quite the response he, or we, were expecting.

More importantly, Adira makes a breakthrough in decoding the signal from the heart of the burn; a message from a trapped Kelpian ship, lost in heart of a nebula some one hundred years ago while investigating a dilithium nursey.

Quantum Leap?

We are only halfway through, but if feels like this might all play out like an episode of Quantum Leap; Georgiou needing to somehow alter her own fate. She has chosen to spare the Mirror Burnham despite her treachery, but what will be the real-world consequences? Or is this all in her own head? If rehabilitation is the goal, it is worth considering that she ruthlessly despatched Stamets during this episode and may still have a way to go!

The answers doubtless all hang on the nature of the enigmatic Carl, the behatted doorman with his interesting newspaper. Might he be a member of the Q, like the meddlesome superbeing who bedevilled Jean Luc Picard, amongst others? Or is he something else entirely? Additionally, with all the talk of Lorca, can we look forward to a guest appearance from Jason Issacs next time? Fingers crossed!

Three star

Star Trek: Discovery Series 3 is available in the UK on Netflix