Review: Star Trek: Discovery, “What’s Past Is Prologue”

After doing an awful lot of brooding, it’s finally time for some action on Discovery. Lorca is loose on the palace-ship, and he frees his followers to stage a bloody coup against Emperor Georgiou.

The official logo for Star Trek: DiscoveryMeanwhile, Discovery, uh, discovers that the palace-ship’s core is what’s killing the mycelial network. It’s up to Burnham to evade the warring factions and sabotage the Charon so that Discovery can fire on the core and save the network.

But problems with the plan keep mounting, creating what appears to be a no-win scenario that fans have quickly and brilliantly dubbed the “Kobayashi Saru.”

In a stark contrast to the rest of the Mirror Universe arc to date, this is actually a very good episode.

Oh, it’s still dumb as hell. I love how people who’ve spent nearly two years being constantly tortured are immediately combat ready, with apparently no lasting negative effects. Stamets has also made a remarkably quick recovery from his boyfriend dying. If I was new to the show, I’d think Stamets was a sociopath, but I know it’s just bad writing.

But here’s the thing: Yes, “What’s Past Is Prologue” is a dumb episode, but it’s fun dumb. Popcorn movie dumb. Put your brain in neutral and just enjoy the ride dumb.

Yeah, Lorca has lost all his nuance, but (all credit to Jason Isaacs) he’s at least as entertaining as a hammy mustache twirler, if not more so. I will pat myself on the back a little for successfully predicting Lorca as the real main villain of the season, though it certainly came about in a far different way than I’d expected.

Michelle Yeoh as Empress Philipa Georgiou in Star Trek: DiscoveryThis is what the Mirror Universe is supposed to be: cheese. It’s far too much of a cartoon parody of evil to ever take seriously. Discovery’s been trying to use it for serious story-telling, but it’s far too ridiculous a scenario for that to ever work. You need to turn in to the cheese. You need to embrace it.

And that’s why “What’s Past Is Prologue” works so much better than most Discovery episodes, despite making a lot of the same mistakes. It’s a dumb episode, but it never tries to be anything else. “In a Mirror, Darkly” wasn’t exactly thought-provoking television either, but it’s (rightly) regarded as one of the best things Enterprise ever did.

“What’s Past Is Prologue” is pure, extravagant action, and it’s all just fun and exciting from beginning to end. That makes it easy to forgive the episode’s flaws. It’s just good entertainment, plain and simple.

And we get to see Michelle Yeoh finally show off her amazing martial arts skills, and the special effects are incredible, and we get a little more (though still not enough) of Rekha Sharma, and best of all the Tyler/Voq story is entirely ignored.

Overall rating: 7.9/10 Probably too little too late at this point, but at least something good came out of the Mirror Universe arc.

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