Star Trek Discovery "Terra Firma Part 2" - Detailed Analysis and Review

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By Adam David Collings. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Today we discuss the conclusion to "Terra Firma Part 2" in Star Trek Discovery Season 3. We see the culmination of Georgiou's character arc, which I felt was nicely done. This two-parter has definitely change the way I see Mirror Georgiou and I'm loving it.

So let's dig in and see what we can find to talk about in this episode.

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Transcript

Welcome to Nerd Heaven

I’m Adam David Collings, the author of Jewel of The Stars

And I am a nerd

This is episode 47 of the podcast. Today, we’re talking about Star Trek Discovery “Terra Firma Part 2”

And big news. It’s just been announced that Star Trek Lower Decks has an international distribution deal. It’ll be arriving on Amazon Prime in the U.K., Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, India, and more on the 22nd of January.

This has been a long time coming, but we’re finally going to be able to see it. Of course, at this point, I’ve pretty much had the entire first season spoiled for me, because, you know….I have access to the internet. Still, it’s good news.

So let’s talk about Terra Firma Part 2.

The description on memory alpha reads

Georgiou uncovers the true depths of the plot against her, leading her to a revelation about how deeply her time on the USS Discovery truly changed her.

The teleplay for this episode was written by Kalinda Vazquez

Based on a story by Bo Yeon Kim & Erika Lippoldt & Alan McElroy

It was directed by Chloe Domont​

And it first aired on the 17th of December 2020.

Make it so.

We pick up where we left off, in the mirror universe, onboard the ISS Discovery.

We won’t see our prime characters until this whole thing with Georgiou is over.

.Michael is dragged kicking and screaming into the brig. Begging to be killed. That’s the honourable way out for a failed traitor. The Terran empire have a lot in common with the Klingons when you think about it. And that’s nothing new.

Michael says “every moment you keep me alive proves further how weak you’ve become.

We learn the reason Lorca moved against her, the reason he got to Michael is because Mirror Georgiou was already being considered weak. She was losing her harsh edge, even before she met prime Michael. It turns out half of her biography opera was a lie. One thing I forgot to mention last week was how the story portrayed Georgiou as a peasant who rose up the ranks to emperor. I wonder if this part was true or false. This is a fascinating insight into her backstory, and while it may be a little bit of a retcon, it helps to make sense of the arc the character has been on.

Now that she's back in the mirror universe, Georgiou is learning just how much she’s changed. And Micahel is noticing. Rescuing Kelpiens, fretting over artists.

Interestingly, Gorgeous is starting to see what mirror Spock ultimately saw, with a little help from prime Kirk. The Terran Empire is not sustainable. They can’t go on like they are forever. Its downfall is inevitable. She tries to explain this to Michael.

Georgiou is only holding on to her power, at present, because of the loyalty of those who still serve her, like Owo and Killy. But how long will she be able to hold on to their loyalty if she really pursues peace?

Michael mentions an alliance is forming against them. This is the coalition we saw in season 1. Vulcans, Klingons, Andorians, Tellarite. Michael mentions a bunch of other races including the Denobulans, which was cool.

I have to assume the coalition of this time will eventually morph into the alliance that we saw in the mirror universe during Deep Space Nine. At that time, the empire had fallen and the alliance ruled the galaxy with almost as strong a fist as their predecessors. The main powers behind the alliance were the Klingons and the Cardassians.

The first thing Killy asks when she has a minute alone with Georgiou is “Why is Michael Burnham still taking up oxygen on my ship?”

Killy already has her doubts about the emperor. Could Michael be right? Is Georgiou weak?

I’m sure Killy has seen it. She knows Georgiou has changed. The only question she needs to wrestle with now is “what do I do about it?” Which option will best serve Captain Killy? She remains loyal, and I don’t think it’s because of anything Georgiou says here about trying to reforge a broken michael into a loyal subject. It’s because Killy doesn’t currently have the resources she needs to lead a revolution of her own. Terrans don’t really care about loyalty. They look out for number one. And she still thinks it’s in her best interest to support Georgiou.

I also think she is genuinely enamoured with the idea of being given the job of breaking Micahel. That sounds like a fun challenge to her. One she will embrace. Apparently, there is no greater interrogator than Killy. And that scares the hell out of me.

And then we get mirror universe opening credits. Just like Enterprise did with In a Mirror Darkly. Though they’re not as changed as what Enterprise did.

The inverted colours work for me.

The upside-down imagery not so much. I don’t really get that.

Had it been me, I’d have changed the starfleet logos to Terran empire logos. That kind of thing. But that would have taken a lot more work than just turning everything upside down.

Michael is pretty confident they won’t break her. At least, that’s what she says. I imagine that Terrans have a higher tolerance for pain than we do. I understand it was a little bit like that in the middle ages. When pain is a normal part of life, it’s not pleasant, but it’s accepted more readily.

At least, so I’m told.

Killy’s interrogation doesn’t last long. She asks Michael to pledge her loyalty. Then zaps her with the agoniser booth. And then says “we’ll try again tomorrow. You don’t mind sleeping in there do you?”

And this is pretty horrifying. She’s left in the booth all night. And every now and then, when she’s least expecting it, it will fire up and put her into incredible pain.

The agnoiser technology itself is horrific. The human body eventually shuts down to protect itself from pain, but this technology is designed to circumvent that, so the victim continues to feel the agony.

So Detmer comes to see Michael. They all know these two were working together.

Detmer tries to convince her to give in, because she won’t be able to cope with uch more. Plus, nobody has heard from Lorca. Which means he has abandoned Michael. There is no sense remaining loyal to him.

And all of this makes a lot of sense. Lorca knows his rebellion is beaten. He can’t do it without Michael. That’s why he went through so many hoops to bring prime michael into the mirror universe.

This also means they don’t have to bring Jason Isaacs back again. Which is a shame.

It also makes sense that Michael gives into Georgiou at this point. IF she is being offered a chance to redeem herself she’d be stupid and stubborn not to take it.

Then there’s a rather sweet scene as Georgiou shares a memory of walking with Michael through her night terrors to see the fireflies. She leaves a jar of fireflies on Michael's bed.

And we get the impression that Georgiou is finally getting through to Michael.

And I think she actually is.

It’s obvious that Georgiou loves Michael as a daughter, and always did.

And so she presents herself. I’m ready to pledge my loyalty to you.

But there’s a question here we’re all asking.

Is she genuine, or is this all just part of Michael’s plan?

Michael goes and kills all her co-conspirators. (at least, those who are nearby. Lorca and his offsider are gonna be harder to find. There’s a cool shootout with Landry.

When Michael and Detmer come in with the badges of all the dead conspirators, it becomes clear that the forgiveness Georgiou is showing Michael doesn’t extend to Detmer.

The kitchen is no longer serving Kelpien. Another of Georgiou’s changes. She can no longer stomach the idea of eating sentient beings. She no longer sees them as animals. She’s gotten to know Saru.

I think Michael is being honest when she says she no longer loves Lorca, and is willing to kill him. He abandoned her.

The culmination of Georgiou’s transformation comes when she tells Saru the truth about vahari. Essentially she frees the Kelpien people by revealing this information to him and telling him to share it with others.

Goergiou’s transformation has been accelerated by coming back to the mirror universe. Had she not come here, it would have remained the slow and steady change we’ve seen over the last few years. Sometimes you have to be reminded to who you were, in order to appreciate and embrace who you are becoming.

This is all very well done, and is the heart of this two-parter.

And Georgiou says this world is her home. She vows to remain here and re-shape it into what it needs to become. Much as Spock will later on.

So now they’re on the hunt for Lorca, and they’re going to find him through his off-sider, Duggen. They find him in orbit of Risa.

And this is really cool. LAst week, we saw the return of Hannah Cheesman, who played Arium in season 2. She was just in the background, wearing a Terran uniform, but it wasn’t made clear exactly what role she was playing. Was this just an easter egg, like how they got all the alien actors to play humans in Vic’s bar in the final episode of DS9?

Now, we get confirmation she is indeed playing Arium. Remember, Arium was human, but she was injured in an accident and made into a cyborg in order to survive.

It seems that the mirror arium had no such accident and remained human. This also confirms that her name was Arium even when she was still human.

I love this. Very nice touch.

So they beam Duggen aboard to question him about Lorca.

And this is when the surprising but inevitable betrayal happens. Nice little nod to Firefly for you.

All through this episode, I’ve hoped that Georgiou was successful in rehabilitating mirror Michael - turning her into something new.

But deep down, always knowing that at any time, she may turn on Georgiou.

So we’re really not surprised when it happens.

Gorgeous isn’t surprised either. She’s become a lot more soft-hearted but she’s not stupid.

She knew this was a likely scenario when Michael pledged her loyalty. She hoped for the best but she prepared for the worst.

Michael knew, the minute Goergiou spared her life, that she could never respect her mother again.

I love it when Georgiou says “I have changed. I have seen another way to live. Another way to rule.”

The prime universe has really had an impact on her.

So the battle begins. And again, it’s a cool fight. Discovery has always done action well.

Michael had a lot of people loyal to her. Were Culbert, Nilsson and the others co-conspirators all along, that Michael chose not to kill, or has she recruited them since her false return to grace? I suspect the latter.

Sadly, Georgiou is left with no other choice but to kill her daughter.

Again.

Georgiou wakes up back on Dannus 5 with Michael and Carl.

She’s been in the mirror universe for months. From Michael’s perspective she passed out for less than a minute, but her wrist monitor has recorded 3 months of bio-readings.

She wasn’t transported bodily. She shared the body of an alternate Georgiou.

Carl has essentially spun off a new timeline off the mirror universe we know.

A timeline that Georgiou has affected greatly. One where the Kelpiens may gain their freedom from the terran empire. Where some good has been done, at least.

Michael and Georgiou keep asking Carl, who are you really. The same question we’ve been asking. And finally, he answers.

I am the Guardian of Forever.

And they use the original voice recording from the original series.

I thought the guardian was voiced by James doohna. I know he did a lot of alien voices, but no, the guardian was played by Bart LaRue. Apparently Doohan voiced the Guardian in the animated series, though. But I haven’t seen that episode. I really need to finish watching the animated series. It’s not great, but it’s still Star Trek.

Sadly, I didn’t feel anything much from this reveal, because it was spoiled for me.

I woke up Friday morning, and within minutes, I saw this big reveal spoiled on Instagram. I was quite unhappy.

Spoilers are an interesting thing. I think there’s some responsibility on both sides.

I’ve seen people on social media who’ve said things like “I plan to see this movie months after it releases, and heaven help anyone who spoils it for me.”

That seems unreasonable. If you’re gonna wait that long, you have to take a little responsibility for protecting yourself, and understand that spoilers likely will happen during that time.

But for a spoiler like this to be posted before the episode has even gone live on most of the planet, well, I think that’s a bit unfair.

But, those who posted it have apologised and are going to hold to a 24 hour grace period, which I think is a really good idea.

Lower Decks is an interesting case. I’ve had much of that spoiled for me, because I move in the Star Trek circles online. I mean, that’s how I market this podcast. I don’t blame those who have posted spoilers. You can’t expect them to wait 6 months to talk about anything. I can’t even fully blame CBS. COVID kinda messed up their plans for releasing Star Trek.

Anyway, the door breaks apart and re-forms into the familiar stone portal from City on the Edge of Forever.

I’m kinda surprised they went there. There was always a lot of controversy and disagreement around the use of the Guardian of Forever in Star Trek while Harlan Ellison was alive.

I guess some agreement was met between CBS and his estate.

But this reveal is kinda like the reveal of Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness.

It’s played as this big dramatic reveal, but it means nothing to Michael and Gaorgiou. It’s all just for the audience.

Personally, I would have dispensed with the artificial suspense and just revealed the guardian properly in part 1. There’s no real reason for it to disguise as a door. A slight reason, perhaps, given it’s in hiding, but then why reveal itself now?

So we get some backstory of what’s happened with the guardian since TOS. When the temporal wars began, everyone kept trying to use the guardian as a weapon to kill each other. It wasn’t pretty. I can well understand the guardian not wanting to be used like that. So, it hid. It removed itself from its original location and hid here on Dannus 5.

That makes sense. I kinda like how they tied the guardian into the temporal wars.

But what do I really think of this reveal?

Well, it’s cool to see the guardian of forever again. No questions. It was one of my favourite things introduced in TOS. In fact, City on the Edge of Forever is my favourite TOS episode.

But is this a good use of it?

I like the character of Carl. He’s cool. He has a fun personality.

But, that’s not a personality I associate with the guardian of forever. The appeal of the guardian was it’s mysterious nature. Part mechanism, part being. Both and Neither. That big booming voice. And part of it’s appeal was also it’s setting. That mysterious ancient alien city left in ruins. Where did it come from? How and why was it created?

As much as I like Carl, I feel that he humanises the Guardian of Forever too much. I don’t want it to be humanised. I want it to remain mysterious and alien. That doesn’t mean I don’t want answers to some of the questions about it, but …. I don’t want it to be turned into a pleasant gentleman from the 1930s.

So ultimately, I think this was a mistake.

I think they should have either:

Made it obviously the guardian from the beginning and do away with Carl altogether.

Or

Forget the guardian, and just have Carl be a Q (which I still think really fits his personality) or have him be something new. Some new alien with Godlike powers.

I’ve always wanted to see the Guardian of Forever again, but just not like this.

But all of that aside, let’s look at what is explained next, because I do really like it.

Georgiou is still dying. She wasn’t sent back to be cured. She was sent back to be weighed. To be tested. To see if she was worthy of the Guardian’s help. Would she make different choices? Has her time in the prime universe changed her?

She doesn’t belong here, but sending her somewhere else could cause a lot of problems. The guardian doesn’t want to inflict another time or place with the dangerous Emperor Georgiou. But is she still dangerous?

What’s interesting is that Georgiou assumes she’s failed the test. She killed her daughter. Again.

Carl is more interested in her heart than the outcome. And I like that.

Georgiou doesn’t want to go back to the mirror universe. Why would she?

But that’s not carl’s plan. He’s going to send her to a time when the prime and mirror universes were still aligned, where her cells won’t fall apart. He doesn’t say exactly where or when. And we’ll talk about that shortly because I have some thoughts.

Carl believes Michael is just where she needs to be, so she can’t go with Georgiou. It’s nice that Geirgiou wants her, though.

So we have a very touching farewell between these two characters. It was wonderful.

We get a brief mention of Husan, the name mentioned in Georgiou’s episodes. She still doesn’t explain who he is, or what he meant to her. Michael tells her to tell the people she’s about to meet. So I guess this backstory will be revealed in the section 31 show.

okay.

Georgiou has one final word of wisdom for Michael. This century is more Terran than the 23rd.

Saru has navigated the change admirably but he’s not the only one suited for the captain’s chair.

I’m not sure exactly what they’re trying to imply, but I thought we were done with the whole, will Michael take the captain’s chair thing. The way I see it, the only way for Michael to become captain of Discovery in any way that I'll accept is to get Saru out of the picture. Either kill or promote him.

And frankly, I don’t want that, because Saru is one of my favourite characters.

And then she steps thorough, and is gone.

It’s funny. I really liked the prime Georgiou character, but never quite warmed to mirror Georgiou in the same way. But now, well, I’m really going to miss her.

So …. Where has she ended up?

For a long time, fans have been saying that Georgiou has to return to the 23rd century so she can star in the section 31 show.

Now while I’ve never dismissed that possibility, my response has always been “Why are you assuming the section 31 show will be set in the 23rd century. We’ve never been told anything that would suggest that.” But people have been treated that as gospel.

I always thought there was at least an equal chance that the section 31 show would be set here in the 32nd century. Georgiou would leave Discovery to work with section 31 as she had in the past.

Well, we know that’s not the cast anymore.

The most obvious answer to the question is that she has returned to the 23rd century, as so many fans always assumed. And that’s a very likely scenario.

But is it the only possibility?

Carl said he was sending her to a time when the prime and mirror universes were aligned. We know they were closely aligned in the 22nd, 23rd and 24th centuries, and on into the 27th, that was the time of the last incursion.

So Goergiou could be going anywhere within that window.

Here’s a wild theory for you.

What if she’s going to the 24th, or early 25th century?

That’s the time where we first learned about section 31, in Deep Space Nine.

That’s where section 31 was used most effectively in story-telling.

This newly changed mirror Georgiou would fit in well with 24th-century section 31, and might even make them a little more moral than they are.

What if the setting of the Section 31 show is just after DS9, or more likely, around the time of Star Trek Picard?

I can see that making a lot of sense, and I’d definitely be up for that.

Here’s an even wilder theory. She has been sent back to the time of Enterprise, and she ends up being the founder of Section 31.

I really like what they’ve done with Georgiou’s character. I used to complain that she was not evil enough, given who she was. But now, I have a different perspective. I see now that her time in the prime timeline has gradually changed her. Made her better., And I love that. And I really like the person she has ended up being. I think the arc could have been done a little smoother. I think they were kinda making it up as they went, rather than planning it from day 1, which is a shame. These things always work better for me when they’re been planned in advance.

So .. I’m not totally ready for a Michelle Yeoh lead spin-off. My only concern about the show is how they’re going to treat section 31. I felt that Discovery season 2 kinda ruined section 31. They didn’t handle it well. Have they learned from this? Will the section 31 we see in the new show be more like the section 31 we saw in Deep Space Nine? I can only hope.

But I’m very eager to learn more about the show now. I’m especially keen to learn what the setting will be.

I’ll probably be disappointed if I learn it’s back in the 23red century. Strange New Worlds has that era covered.

And honestly, I’m not pinning to have Tyler back. I didn’t like this character in season 2, so I don’t think he needs to be part of the new show.

Time will tell.

We finally return to Discovery, to see what our other characters are up to.

Adira and Stamets are still trying to hack into the Kelpien ship’s sensors. But they’re having trouble.

Book turns up with a device that will help. It’s emerald chain technology.

So they finally check in with Vance, who is very concerned about using Chain technology on a Starfleet ship. It could be dangerous and Starfleet can’t afford to risk having their only ship with a spore drive compromised.

Book is absolutely convinced it is safe.

But I’m still concerned. They’re obviously setting something up here. I think it’ll become problematic in the next couple of episodes.

So this whole thing of Saru delaying his report on the Kelpien ship. I’m not fully following that.

Saru hasn’t seen another Kelpien in a long time, and this is a Kelpien ship.

But ….. So what?

It’s not like the Kelpiens are extinct. They’re a Federation member.

Kaminar is still out there.

I don’t quite understand Saru’s reason for not reporting the information to Vance as soon as he knew it. Did he think Vance would not want them to rescue it?

I just don’t get it.

I don’t know what the writers are getting at here.

Then we get another touching scene. It’s not quite a funeral, it’s just a little get -together to remember their friend who they’ll never see again.

It was a lovely scene.

And this ends the story of Phillipa Gaorgiou, closing a story that began with the first episode of season 1.

In a way, this two-parter has seemed a bit like a distraction from the greater season plot, but I’m totally cool with it. The character arcs are just as important to this season as the burn story is.

And I, for one, have really enjoyed Terra Firma Parts 1 and 2.

We’re getting close to the end now. Just 3 episodes to go.

Next week we’ll be talking about episode 11 “The Citadel.”

I’m excited to see what happens as the season’s plot arc goes into top gear.

It should be cool.

And I’ll be watching that episode on Christmas day. But I’ll be on holiday by then.I plan to get my podcast out Monday morning, Australian time, as always.

I’ve revamped the books page on my website, so if you’re interested in trying out some of my fiction, you can see it all nicely laid out at AdamDavidCollings.com/books

I’d encourage you to check it out.

Until I see you next, have a great week, Merry Christmas, live long and prosper.

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