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)

Vaulting Ambition Review: A Sweet Goodbye

“Vaulting Ambition” has an uphill battle in the heart of this guy, to be honest. I don’t really enjoy the visualization of dream sequences in television or film. Stamets’ representation in the mycelial network feel dangerously close to this for me. Hugh running around the abandoned corridors of the Discovery and weird tree creatures chasing after him? It’s sort of a straight up dream episode. But! The great part about it are those beautiful scenes giving Stamets and Culber an opportunity to say goodbye. It was Niagara Falls over here, baby.  “Nothing in here is ever truly gone.” Hopefully the clue to Culber’s return in season two lies buried in that sentence somewhere.

Paul Stamets and Hugh Culber getting a chance to say goodbye in Vaulting Ambition

A Bridge Between Much Better Episodes

When compared to the previous episode The Wolf Inside, Vaulting Ambition doesn’t compare particularly favorably. There are definite moments of excitement, like when Stamets finally emerges from his comatose state and is immediately ready to roll. The Lorca revelation was exciting, but it was also a thing that felt inevitable by this point. This episode felt like connective tissue between episodes that matter. Vaulting Ambition feels a little like a procedural step in the journey towards the end, without much tension or excitement. There are just formalities we have to get out of the way before the story can continue.

I’m a little confused how Emperor Georgiou showed up in The Wolf Inside blowing up the rebel camp, but in this episode Burnham needs to warp to her location. Similar thing happened way back after they first arrived in the Mirror Universe in “Into the Forest I Go.” A ship, somewhere, blew up the vessel that was attacking the USS Discovery. But then suddenly they were far away and not in any danger of detecting that it’s the USS Discovery instead of the ISS Discovery. The Mirror Universe has weird spatial relationships.

Klingon / Human Hybrids

Moments of lucidity where Ash Tyler takes over from Voq and inquires about Michael Burnham prove to be heartachingly tragic. But on the first run through, I had no clue what L’Rell actually did here. She engages in a bit of the Klingon death ritual like we saw back in “Into the Forest I Go” on the Klingon Ship of the Dead, so I assumed Voq was no more. But a couple episodes from now, it turns out he’s still bopping around in this new Tyler / Voq hybrid. Converting Klingons to humans turns out to be a tricky business.

The series of flashbacks as Burnham pieces together Lorca’s true identity were on point! And to have that intermixed with scenes of Lorca busting out of the agonizer machine and confirming his origin as a Mirror Universe resident? It was a goddamned delight.

Georgiou vs. Georgiou

Emperor Georgiou in her throne room in "Vaulting Ambition"

I love Michelle Yeoh. I love Captain Georgiou. My heart, however, is of decidedly a more mixed nature about Emperor Georgiou. I mean, she definitely has a cool name. Philippa Georgiou Augustus Iaponius Centarius is absolutely a mouthful of delight. But I don’t much care for evil characters in the first place. And the fact that I absolutely adored the Captain version of Georgiou makes it all the more difficult to accept this impostor. I have welcomed Captain Georgiou so deeply into my heart, that Emperor Georgiou feels clunky and unnatural. But hopefully this perception will shake loose with time.

Want some more Star Trek chatter? Check out our Star Trek Discovery podcast doing just that thing! We even dedicated an entire episode to Vaulting Ambition.

Pick up all of Star Trek Discovery season one on Blu-ray from Amazon here.