“Terra Firma: Part 1” causes Georgiou to confront her past as a long-shot means of survival — but at what cost and for what long-term purpose?
This recap of Star Trek: Discovery season 3, episode 9, “Terra Firma: Part 1”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
It stands to reason that traveling between dimensions and through time would play havoc with one’s biology, but “Terra Firma, Part 1” deems the revelation important enough that David Cronenberg delivers it. The character’s name is Kovich, apparently, and he seems to be the go-to guy for determining what’s up with Georgiou since he turns up after hearing about her mysterious illness and brings not only context but an example of a fellow sufferer. As it turns out, a “time soldier” in the Temporal War had a similar affliction, his molecules torn asunder, and since Georgiou has not only traveled 900 years into the future but did so after transferring laterally across from the Mirror Universe, her symptoms are likely to be much worse – and Patient Zero was officially euthanized.
I’m not sure what “worse” than death looks like, but either way, Georgiou isn’t in a hurry to find out. At first, she tries suicide-by-Michael, but she’s essentially guilt-tripped into traveling to Dannus V, an uninhabited planet suggested by the Sphere data to potentially contain some kind of long-shot cure, convinced that dying in a fight just to avoid a potentially life-saving option would be the real coward’s death, even if it did involve medieval weaponry.
There’s a lot about this that doesn’t make much sense. Georgiou isn’t especially well-adjusted at the best of times, but she’s using her current predicament as an excuse to be absolutely awful to everyone, especially Tilly, yet just before she and Michael – who else? – embark on the mission she has a moderately touching farewell with Tilly and Saru all the same. Speaking of Saru he’s made to look ridiculous after refusing to authorize the mission for perfectly justifiable reasons, only to have Admiral Vance completely contradict him by giving the excursion the go-ahead despite it being rather contrary to his personality as established thus far. Dannus V is out in the middle of nowhere, in space terms, and requires Discovery’s spore drive to get there, thus mandating that the Federation’s most valuable vessel must busy itself with an extremely flimsily-justified away mission while the Emerald Chain conduct “military exercises” nearby, which is interstellar crime syndicate parlance for “obviously prepare to blow something up”. You’ll note this is pretty much the exact opposite of how Vance’s personality worked when it came to the Discovery abandoning its post for Michael and Book’s rogue mission earlier in the season, and nothing has happened in the meantime to justify the about-turn.
Plus, all this for Georgiou? I’m not sure I’ve ever actually mentioned this before, but even having a murderous parallel universe dictator on-board is difficult to justify, let alone taking all kinds of risks for the benefit of her health. Now, look, this is kind of the arc of “Terra Firma, Part 1”, which sees Georgiou, thanks to a man in a bowler hat and a mysterious door, back in the Terran Universe on the eve of the coup. And things have changed for her. She immediately sees the nakedly psychopathic Terran behavior for what it is, especially once it’s an alternate version of Saru, here a Kelpian slave, who is next on alt-Michael’s chopping block. During her time on Discovery, Georgiou has obviously accumulated enough context and first-hand experience to challenge her ingrained and flagrantly racist beliefs that Kelpians are just to be harvested, killed, and eaten, or at least to challenge the idea that one she knows relatively well should end up on her plate. But at least at present, it isn’t really clear if this is intended as a redemption arc or just a way for Georgiou to use what she’s learned to re-do things in her favor. To be honest, I’m not even sure the show knows, or even that it has realized those are not the same things.
It’s hard to escape the idea that simply having Georgiou around is a tough sell. She has committed far too many atrocities to ever be truly redeemed, and what attempts at redemption are going on here are somewhat undermined by the fact that none of the Prime people Georgiou continues to be actively harmful or at least insubordinate to are even privy to what’s going on. Who’s learning a lesson here? And if it’s Georgiou, I wonder both what lesson she’s learning and how it’s going to make her fit better into the show going forward.
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