At the end of the previous episode of Star Trek: Discovery, we noticed that puzzling smirk on Lorca’s face when he saw Emperor Georgiou and now we know why … and another fan theory has come to fruition, and it also proves that the folks behind this iteration of the venerable franchise have always had more up their sleeves than most people imagined.
But let’s just put it all out there now — and if you haven’t yet watched the episode, be forewarned that there is no way to talk about “Vaulting Ambition” without dropping some of the major plot points (and they’re not spoilers now that the show has aired!). Yes, it’s true, Captain Lorca is NOT from the Prime universe. As many have suspected all along, he is the Mirror Universe Lorca and he has a history with that universe’s Georgiou, and poor Burnham finds herself in the middle of a long-gestating feud. It also begs the question, where is the Prime Lorca?
Of course, Burnham found out some other news from the Emperor: Georgiou adopted Burnham after her parents died. The Mirror Universe Burnham apparently didn’t study with the Vulcans, instead she was trained to be the warrior we assume she was under the guidance of her adopted mother. But there was always something missing in that relationship, and Lorca filled the void as Burnham’s father figure, eventually conspiring with her to kill the emperor, a little plot point that put Prime Burnham in grave danger. Luckily, her Georgiou’s badge proved she was not from this universe and … well, the emperor is already fully aware of Burnham’s own universe.
In fact, it seems that the Prime Universe’s conceits of tolerance and all that Federation stuff is the reason the Mirror Universe is how it is. The Terrans didn’t want to have a kumbaya moment with the rest of the beings in their universe, so they rejected it all and set out to conquer everything they could. But Georgiou is puzzled as to why Burnham and her crew have not gone mad as the crew of the Defiant did as passing through a singularity into the Mirror Universe had some adverse neurological effects on them. Burnham revealed the Discovery’s spore drive system to the emperor and asked for help getting back to her universe with the promise that the emperor would never see them again. Of course Georgiou had one condition — the specification for the spore drive in exchange for her help.
Meanwhile, Lorca was being tortured in an Agonizer booth by one of the emperor’s men, whose sister Lorca had apparently screwed and screwed over, with the man demanding Lorca say her name. For a brief moment, the awful thought that the name the guy was waiting to hear was Michael but thankfully it was Eva … which Lorca said after he faked the guy out by pretending to collapse and then got the upper hand when he tried to revive Lorca. Oopsy. But now Lorca is out, so we can assume that there is a major showdown coming between him and Georgiou with the Discovery caught in the middle.
On the Discovery, Stamets has found himself trapped in the mycellial network with the Mirror Universe Stamets who just happened to be conducting the same experiment. Hmmmm, if that’s the case then why doesn’t the emperor know about the spore drive, or hasn’t her Stamets gotten that far yet? Either way, Paul is in danger of being completely trapped in the network if he doesn’t wake up, but an encounter with Hugh (whom he learns, and then remembers, is dead) almost makes him give up just to stay there with him. (I’m not crying, you’re crying!) But Hugh convinces Paul to do what he has to do, wake up and fix everything. He does, as does the Mirror Universe Stamets, but from the look of things he might be a little too late to stop the large growth that is starting to envelope the Discovery.
And unfortunately with Dr. Culber dead, the other medical team on the ship have no idea what’s happening with Ash Tyler except that there is something very wrong with his brain functions. Saru asks L’Rell for help but she refuses. Later he shows her video of the damage Tyler inflicted upon himself and when she refuses to help again, he has Tyler / Voq beamed into her cell. Seeing him in person changes her mind but she says only she can help him. Saru allows her to come with him to sick bay where she performs a procedure that, by her mournful wail at the end of it, removed Voq’s essence from this body that she had helped construct to look like Ash Tyler. But the question remains, are the memories and personality of the real Tyler (who was captured at the Battle of the Binary Stars) and grafted onto Voq’s still intact? Will he now be completely Ash Tyler, and will Burnham — who now faces two betrayals by men she’s trusted, be able to look past the fact that this is now still a Klingon body and mind altered to appear and act human? It’s bad enough she has to deal with the ghost of the woman she betrayed, so Burnham will have a lot to contend with over the last three episodes of the season.