TV ReviewsStar Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 13: What’s Past is Prologue Review

If you would like to read my review of last week’s episode, click here.

Synopsis: Lorca plans to move forward with a coup against the Emperor, propelling Burnham to make a quick decision to save not only herself, but the U.S.S. Discovery. (IMDB)

Writers: Ted Sullivan

Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi

Rating: TV-MA

Running Time: 43 mins

“What’s Past is Prologue” starts off with Mirror Lorca releasing his troops from captivity. One of his commanders urges they leave and regroup, but Lorca has a plan. They head down to the science wing and find Mirror Stamets where Lorca explains how he was transported to a parallel universe with the help of an ion storm. He demands to see the Emperor’s new weapon and Stamets obliges.

A gas is released in the halls of the ISS Charon, killing a lot of the Emperor’s troops. Georgiou wants to let Lorca continue this until he reveals his location, but Burnham smells a trap. After the two spar, Georgiou commands that Burnham be sent to the brig. Before they can even leave the room, she fights back and escapes through the ship.

Saru makes his first Captain’s Log, discussing Stamets’ attempt to save the mycelial network, but falling short believing it was corrupted by his mirror counterpart. They believe while they had a symbiotic relationship with the spore network and worked alongside it, Mirror Stamets used a more parasitic one that sucked power out of the network. Turns out if the ISS Charon continues to use this form of power, the mycelial network will cease to exist, killing life as they know it across all universes.

Lorca broadcasts to the Charon, pleading with the crew to join his rebellion to save the dying empire. He explains the importance of Michael Burnham in his plan and that she shouldn’t be harmed. What is this cross-universe plan? He monologues a little too long allowing Georgiou to find his location and send her troops. They head towards the main lab where one of Georgiou’s commanders is there, alone. She explains they were ambushed and Lorca spared her, but she’s instantly vaporized and Lorca steps out to greet them.

His men try to fire on her, but she has a protective barrier up. Georgiou turns on sentry guns that fire on Lorca’s men, dispatching most of them, but Lorca and his commander take out the turrets and fire a barrage of lasers towards the barrier. As it slowly loses power, the two sides engage in a gunfight that ends in Georgiou calling for an emergency transport as her last soldier falls. Lorca forces Stamets to disable the emergency transport system as his troops go to surround the throne room.

Burnham attempts to make contact with Discovery and eventually reaches Saru. She explains Lorca’s true identity and motives and everyone is stunned. Burnham urges that the Discovery avoid the Charon so that Lorca cannot use it to bring the Terran Fleet to their universe, but Stamets explains the importance of stopping the Terrans thanks to their life-sucking, universe-destroying super mycelial reactor. They believe destroying the reactor will sever its tie with the network and allow it to regenerate itself. However, the reactor is protected by a containment field and lucky for them they have a woman on the inside.

As Lorca takes the throne room, he monologues about fate and in an instant has Stamets executed. They learn Burnham made contact with Discovery so Lorca decides to reach out to his former crew member. He explains how the Federation in her universe is destined to fail and that her place is as part of the Terran Empire. He wants her to be by his side, bringing peace to this universe. Burnham finds her way to Georgiou where they discuss their loses and their mutual desire to take down Lorca. How do they plan to do that? Burnham decides to give him what he wants: her.

The Discovery crew discuss how they plan to take down the reactor. For something that big they need to use their entire spore supply to create powerful enough warheads to destroy it. It also turns out that even if they use that and strand themselves in this universe, they won’t last long as the blast from the explosion will cut straight through Discovery’s shield. In a time of grim odds, Saru gives a heartfelt, inspirational speech that motivates the crew to do the unthinkable.

Burnham arrives at the throne room with Georgiou as her prisoner. She explains he can only take the throne if he executes the current emperor. He believes Burnham wants more and she cuts to the chase: she will stay, in an advisor capacity only, so long as he spares the Discovery. Love how she specifically tells him she won’t be his partner like Mirror Burnham. Lorca taunts Georgiou saying she was always fated to be betrayed by Burnham to which she replies she was fated to kill him.

Tilly and Stamets are able to figure out a way to use the explosion to power the spore drive and get them home all while not blowing them up in the progress. Stamets applauds Tilly’s ingenuity, but as they receive this news, Saru receives word that it is safe to arrive at the Charon and the Discovery drops out of warp. Almost immediately he is hailed by Lorca.

Lorca tells the crew of the Discovery that he has the utmost admiration for them and that they are alive because of Bunrham’s decision to stay. As she herself tells Saru that, the coup is on as Burnham and Georgiou begin to fight back. The Discovery fires on the throne room as they plan their next move. While Burnham fights Lorca’s commander, he is in the middle of an intense battle with Emperor Georgiou. In the end his feelings for Burnham cloud his judgment and she is able to get him at gunpoint. She explains Starfleet would have helped him get home because that’s who she is. She might not kill Lorca, but the Emperor will. She stabs him through the chest with her sword and kicks him into the reactor door, vaporizing him.

Burnham turns off the containment field and the Discovery is able to fire on the reactor. Emperor Georgiou takes her final stand as a defeated emperor and helps Burnham get home, but at the last second Burnham grabs her and transports them both of them. Georgiou turns to her and asks: What have you done to me?

The episode ends with the Discovery firing on the ISS Charon, which blows up the reactor and with the power surge from the blast they are able to warp to their universe. Stamets urges Tilly to figure out where, and when, they are. Turns out they are nine months into the future and the Klingons won the war, destroying the Federation in the process. Not the way I expected it to go, but let’s see.


  • How will Discovery help change the tide of this war?
  • Will Emperor Georgiou prove essential in defeating the Klingons?
  • Will the time-jump cause any repercussions on the crew?
  • Will the mycelial network repair itself or will Discovery opt to no longer mess with it?
  • How will L’Rell and Voq play into the war now that they’re back in their universe?
  • After the war is over, where does the story go from there? Who is the Captain, what is Burnham’s role, and is the real Lorca still out there?

At first when Stamets mentioned when that perhaps they had been transported back in time allowing Burnham a do-over with her own version of Captain Georgiou, even allowing Michelle Yeoh to return as a series regular for season two. By doing this they could’ve avoided the war entirely, removing the one aspect that many saw as the least Star Trek thing about this show, but the complexity of time travel and creating two versions of them in the past creates a lot more problems rather than jumping forward in time.

The name of the episode really plays into the concept of where this show may go from here saying that everything previous to the Mirror Universe acts as a prologue to the real story. What makes me curious is where they plan to take this story going forward. While I hoped that Emperor Georgiou could turn or that the real Lorca is trapped in a Klingon labour camp because both Michelle Yeoh and Jason Isaacs have done tremendous work with these characters. However, this episode made me realize how Burnham and Saru are the real heart of this show and that these two characters can carry this series. Saru in particular is born to be the commander of the Discovery and hopefully he is in the chair come season two.

Overall, this was a fantastic episode. This to me has been the best episode of the season so far. It brings all the character development to a head as we see these characters thrown into emotionally and mentally challenging situations. While the action is at an all-time high in this episode, it doesn’t detract from the sci-fi elements in creating a best of both worlds, or universes, scenario. Burnham and Saru prove to be quite the dynamic duo that hopes to lead this crew for many seasons going forward while Lorca’s last stand makes Jason Isaacs steal every scene he is in. Here’s to hoping we haven’t see the last of him on Discovery.

Score: 9.5/10

What did you think of “What’s Past is Prologue”? Where do you think the story will go from here? Let me know in the comments below!

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