This level of indulgence is forgivable to give Georgiou and the mirror universe the melodramatic bows they deserve.
- 🖖🏻Georgiou gets a very fitting end on this show.
- 🖖🏻The Mirror Universe continues to be a melodramatic joy.
- 🖖🏻The stretch of this plot into two episodes feels unnecessary.
- 🖖🏻The tease for next week's episode kills the emotional pacing for a minute.
This article contains spoilers for Star Trek: Discovery.
Check out our review of last week's episode here.
Writing a two-part episode of a television series is a tricky business. There’s a certain weight of expectation that comes with separating the beginning and ending of your story with a week of anticipation and build-up, and Star Trek has a long history of understanding that the second half of a two-episode arc should do more than just play into expectations. Unfortunately, the cold fact of the matter is that “Terra Firma” did not need to be two episodes, as this week's installment resolves its conflicts in some rather predictable ways. But that doesn’t mean that it fails to hit the emotional beats it needs in order the bring Georgiou’s story in for the landing. It just means that it probably could have done so better with a punchier single outing.
Picking up from where the first half left off, the majority of the episode finds Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) dealing with the aftermath of foiling Terran Michael’s (Sonequa Martin-Green) coup yet declining to kill her as a traitor. Georgiou instead has her placed in an agonizer, a torture device operated by Captain Killy (Mary Wiseman) with the express purpose of bringing Michael back into the loyal fold. For as drawn out as Michael’s reeducation and hunt for her co-conspirators is, the turnabout of the episode is fairly obvious, culminating in a showdown where Michael once again leads an attack on Georgiou. It demonstrates the inevitability of the betrayal as a consequence of her and Georgiou’s lifetime of toxic relationship, and Georgiou’s resulting death in the Terran timeline is a fitting end to her darkest impulses.
It’s especially fitting because the focus of this episode is equally on how Georgiou has gone soft in the eyes of her followers but is really demonstrating an increased capacity for empathy. Sure, she’s relying on torture to bring Michael to her side, but she states outright that she doesn’t understand how else to help her and realizes her failure anyway. That last vestige of her darkness is in stark contrast to how she treats the enslaved Saru (Doug Jones) as a confidant and ultimately passes on the knowledge that letting his threat ganglia fall off will give him the strength to fight back against his oppressors. That’s a level of compassion that the old Georgiou would have never displayed, and Saru pointing out how she cannot possibly be the same emperor he knew only puts a finer point on how she has grown over the last two seasons.
After Georgiou’s death, we bounce back to the Prime universe, where Michael has been monitoring Georgiou’s unconscious body for less than a minute. With the theatrics out of the way, Carl (Paul Guilfoyle) reveals himself to be a personification of the Guardian of Forever, a cute throwback nod to the original series episode “The City on the Edge of Forever,” even if it doesn’t really hold any plot significance beyond the utility of testing Georgiou’s morality and sending her on her way to a time where her molecular state isn’t in danger of collapsing. The final conversation between Michael and Georgiou before she enters the Guardian’s portal is heartfelt and sweet, proclaiming a love for one another that isn’t based on the mirrored personas each of them miss, but on mutual respect for the person they’ve spent time with these last few years. This is further emphasized by the memorial held on the Discovery, where everyone’s ribbing frustration for Georgiou is laced with genuine affection for a crew member lost.
Shoehorned into this episode is a resolution to the overarching plot conflict that was shoehorned into the previous episode, wherein Book (David Ajala) does his research and offers the use of Emerald Chain technology to hack the Kelpien ship at the source of The Burn. This does little besides set up the conflict for next week and reiterate Saru’s compromised emotions, so it’s a bit jarring for the episode to take a break from its emotional climax to Georgiou’s story for an extended tease.
But on the whole, for as ultimately predictable as “Terra Firma, Part 2” ended up, it’s still a satisfying conclusion to Georgiou’s tenure on ‘Discovery’. Its predictability isn’t entirely the show’s fault, as it’s been well known for a while that a Georgiou-centric spin-off show was in the works that would necessitate her departure. Yet even as I find myself wishing for a single episode that explored Georgiou’s growth in a more concise and pointed way, I find this level of indulgence forgivable to give Yeoh and the mirror universe the melodramatic bows they deserve. The emperor is dead. Long live Georgiou.
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