Originally Published on There Are Four Mics – A Star Trek Podcast
(We’re moving our Star Trek Discovery related content over here where it belongs)
Where the “Vaulting Ambition” felt a bit sluggish, our What’s Past is Prologue review comes right out of the gate embracing some excitement. Some of that excitement comes in the form of Mirror Commander Landry, who this blog mourned deeply when she was lost in “Context is for Kings.” I mean, the Mirror Universe Landry didn’t last long, either. But our lives are better for her brief return to it. Even more so because her counterpart actually seemed like maybe she was nicer than our own universe’s version.
I tend to not be a big fan of phaser battles in Star Trek. They usually feel a little hokey, and almost never convey any kind of intensity. “What’s Past is Prologue” probably agrees with that assessment because the way they set up the phaser fight between Georgiou and Lorca. You could _feel_ this exchange. It was incredibly kinetic, and people were getting vaporized left and right. It was high stakes, fast paced, and exciting! These are things that rarely accompany phaser fights.
Farewell Familiar Faces
“What’s Past is Prologue” does kind of suggest that once we leave the Mirror Universe, Star Trek Discovery is unlikely to revisit it. So many of our characters no longer exist in the Mirror Universe at all. Mirror Universe Connor got murdered a couple episodes back in “Despite Yourself.” Mirror Owosekun, Stamets and Landry all got murdered in this episode. Lorca got stabbed in the heart and then thrown into a fiery inferno. There seems to be little opportunity for them to come back here and slip into the roles of the counterparts. I think I’m okay with that. The Mirror Universe is a concept best used sparingly.
The Robot lady gets a few lines in this episode! According to the internet, her name is Airiam. It’s exciting to see her talk. She’s such an unusual character, that I’m really hoping they get around to exploring her a little bit more in season two. Maybe they could even say her name once.
Saru has his “Today, we celebrate our Independence Day” moment and it was magic. He inspires his team while espousing the Starfleet ideals we all love. This moment is one we can look back on when Saru eventually makes captain as evidence for why he deserves it. Tilly also continues to rock it. Just like back in The Wolf Inside where we raved about Competent Tilly gettings Stamets back into his brain, here she finds a solution to the no-win scenario facing the Discovery.
Olatunde Osunsanmi Returns
The directing by Olatunde Osunsanmi in “What’s Past is Prologue” is glorious. This is the second time he’s made an appearance behind the camera of this series. The first, “The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry” was also one of this blog’s favorites so far. So many incredibly beautiful framing shots of all the action. And boy, was there a lot of action in this episode. They took advantage of having Michelle Yeoh here, and had her doing all kinds of seemingly impossible moves. Kicking a knife outta the air that’s coming at her face?! Come. On. I will watch that all day.
“What’s Past is Prologue” dips it’s toe in politics
It’s always great when Star Trek gets political, and “What’s Past is Prologue” did a bit of dabbling in that arena. First with its bit of mockery of how dumb an idea it is for a society to base their society on a reliance on non-renewable energy sources. Stupid Terrans. And Lorca, getting ready to take over leadership of these same stupid Terrans, employs a slogan that made me cringe to my core: “Make the Empire Glorious Again.” #MEGA I’m happy that a Trump homage came from Lorca, a clear villain.
Coming back to the proper universe, but overshooting by nine months? And coming back and having the Klingons winning the war? That was a damn fine, and entirely unexpected twist. Weirdly, it was also a thing I forgot entirely about until I just re-watched it. More on the implications of this next episode!
Pick up all of Star Trek Discovery season one on Blu-ray from Amazon here.