The more and more I think about this episode, the more and more I like it. The more and more I think about it, the more and more I see it as a stunning rebuke against the show’s own toxic fan community who has, for years, made snarky comments about Burnham and her displays of emotion and humanity, claiming that she cries several times per episode because she’s one of them sensitive women folk.
Do I think that this was a purposeful rebuke? Probably not. In all likelihood, it’s a coincidence that this episode comes out at a time that this ridiculous incel talk is hailing all over the fan community, but it is a stunning rebuke nonetheless, and it is a very strong, very well acted, and very emotional episode as well about how being exposed to humanity, compassion, and positivity can fundamentally change even the darkest of souls.
Phillipa Georgiou, the mirror universe counterpart of Michael Burnham’s deceased captain and mentor, is dying and, in a last ditch effort to save herself, she journeys to an alien world and, with the help of a mysterious man name Carl, is sent back to the Mirror Universe shortly before she was removed from it. She’s the emperor again, her Michael Burnham is still alive and still plotting against her, and Emperor Georgiou sets out to change history… except, this time around, she wants to change things for the better.
Although her character was largely wasted as background dressing who delivered some, admittedly, very slick burns and saved everyone at the last minute in some glorious duex ex Michelle-Yeoh moments, these last two episodes were an incredible send off for her. Incredibly emotional, beautifully shot, and full of visual metaphor — Mirror Michael looking at the caged fireflies was such a great analogy for her own situation. What’s more, “Terra Firma” showed how far Georgiou had come and, best of all, every last bit of it felt completely earned. This episode was the culmination of her evolution and, dumping her back at the beginning with all she knew and all she had learned, was such an effective way of showing it.
I even have to applaud the dialogue, particularly the scene with Georgiou and Saru. Michelle Yeoh and Doug Jones are such incredible gifts to Star Trek. Beyond that, once again, you can tell that everyone in this episode had an absolute ball playing their evil counterparts, Soniqua Martin Green in particular who just reveled in the more bombastic and deliciously sinister Burnham.
I would be remiss to mention that the reveal of Carl’s true identity was an incredible moment that I absolutely loved. Between this and The Mandalorian this week, I am one happy nerd.
It was a little disappointing that Jason Issacs didn’t make an appearance as Lorca given how much name-dropping these last two episodes did, but in hindsight, there wasn’t a whole lot he would have added to the story. Maybe they could have name-dropped him less? Softened the blow?
Star Trek: Discovery hasn’t had a misfire all season and, to be honest, has barely hit a bump in the road. “Tera Firma” is a remarkable deep dive into the effects of true humanity even the darkest of places, the value of screaming in the face of a deadly storm, and the importance of noble exercises in futility.
This is Star Trek all the way down to its core.