We are nearing the end of the season and on this week’s episode of Star Trek Discovery Season three, episode 9, “Terra Firma: Part One” Philippa Georgiou is back in the spotlight. This season she has mostly been a side character. A snarky comic relief and a character dealing with her own issues. But now she get’s her own big end of season episode.
Emperor Philippa Georgui (Michelle Yeoh) is dying. Her body just can not handle being in a different timeline AND a different universe. Paradoxes are unraveling around our favorite mean lady. She knows she’s dying and because she is horrible at navigating her own emotions she’s being extra cruel and mean to everyone around her. Her chances of survival are a mere five percent. She is basically doomed.
It is notable to point out that all of that sass and cruelty is a big wall of protection from her fears and emotions. Anger isn’t an emotion that comes alone. Anger is usually a sort of manifestation of a lot of other emotions. In this episode, it is fear coming across as anger. Fear of not knowing what is medically wrong with her. And she knows that there is little that can be done to save her.
The good doctor, Dr. Hugh Culber (Wilson Cruz), seems determined to find a solution. Together with the intergrated sentient intelligence that has become part of the discovery and with scientist from the futurte Kovich (David Cronenberg) they will devise a plan to save Georgui.
Phillipa and Micheal
Micheal Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) has always risked a lot by aligning herself with Emporer Philippa Georgiou. Whether it is for an unsanctioned mission to find Book or in adventures in alternate universes. Burham already lost her position as Number One and in Starfleet by disobeying a direct order. Not to mention risking the legitimacy of the U.S.S. Discovery and her crew as part of Starfleet. But most importantly she is risking her relationship with Saru. Despite all this and knowing that Phillipa has little to no chance of survival, Burnham has once again gone to bat for Georgui. And in this episode, she will set out to find a cure for her surrogate mother figure.
Philippa refusing Michael’s help is not surprising given her history. But you would think that by now she would begin to open up more. It’s clear she cares for Michael, it clears Discovery’s moral compass has begun to grow on her. We finally get to see glimpses of Philippa’s character development as she says goodbye to Saru and Tilly and she heads down with Micheal to the planet that may hold a cure. We do start to see some truth spilling out. Philippa accuses Micheal of attempting to make ammends with her own past through Emperor Georgui for getting her own Captain Georgui killed. Micheal accuses Phillipa of being cruel to her because she regrets having killed the Micheal from her own timeline.
U.S.S. Discovery sets out to cure Phillipa
It’s a little odd that despite the fact that Burhamn has been demoted, that she is always in the meetings with the Admiral and other high ranking officers, and Tilly (Mary Wiseman), Saru’s first officer is not. Saru is trying to do his best as Captain and makes decisions based on the needs of the many and is completely prepared to let Phillipa deteriorate so that he can help The Federation with the threat of The Emerald Chain. The Admiral is not prepared to let Saru make the same mistakes that he made in his youth. He reminds Saru that one crew member drowining is just as important as the Federation’s many. The crew sets out to help fix Phillipa’s condition.
Micheal and Phillipa encounter what may be a futuristic version of the ghost of christmas past. On the planet, a man named Carl appears along with a door. He knows excatly who Philippa is and what is happening to her. And he acts as a mirror when he reflects back what Micheal is really feeling. He claims to know the future. He offers Philippa a chance to be saved. His answers are not clear enough to Micheal and so she is hesitatnt. But Philipa is determined to take the chance. She crosses over alone into the Terra Firma.
The door has led Phillipa into her past timeline and universe. It takes her to the day when Micheal and Lorca betray her and she has Micheal killed. It is her opportunity to change her past. She aligns herself with the Saru from that universe to fix her past. It is obvious now that being on Discovery has changed her. And she will do anything to save Micheal.
Having already lived through this once she has the advantage of being prepared for her attackers. She does not kill Micheal for betraying her. Instead she has her exsorted to the agonizer, a torture chamber used as a sort of brig.
What does it mean?
This cliffhanger leaves with with only questions. It’s hard to imagine how Georgiou will fit in her own timeline. She has grown so much since leaving her universe. Will she stay there in her new past forever? Or is this merely an opportunity to fix her wrongs before her death? Will she somehow be able to return to the future with the rest of discovery? Does this mean that the Emerald Chain aren’t this season’s big issue? Could this Portal send Discovery back to it’s own time? Definitely looking forward to season finale and some more the cool black and gold Terran outfits.
Star Trek: Discovery airs Thursdays on CBS All Access.