Emperor Georgiou lives by her own rules. Picking up where the first installment left off, “Terra Firma, Part 2” finds the Terran leader dealing with political intrigue in the Mirror Universe. Transported there by a mysterious doorway, Georgiou remains unsure of whether what she is experiencing is real or illusory, yet she is determined to regain Mirror Burnham’s allegiance and preside over a reformed Terran Empire. Burnham labels her mother as weak, citing a coalition that the Romulans, Andorians, Tellarites, and Klingons have founded to rebel against the throne. Michael believes the Denobulans, Rigelians, and Coridanites could soon join that alliance.
Georgiou stays the course, banishing Burnham to the agonizer booth and tasking Sylia “Captain Killy” Tilly with breaking her daughter’s traitorous spirit. The emperor feels the only way to truly reach Michael in the Mirror realm is through strength and pain, so she permits Killy to subject the imprisoned Terran to months of torture. Influenced by her experience in the Prime Universe and convinced there is a better way for her empire, Georgiou recounts fond memories of following a young, sleepwalking Burnham to fields filled with fireflies. Georgiou places an orb containing the luminous insects at her daughter’s side, an act which seemingly sways Burnham into compliance.
Meeting with Georgiou, Burnham vows that she is once again devoted to her mother and agrees to eliminate Lorca’s co-conspirators. Michael executes Landry, Bryce, Detmer, and a host of other Terrans to prove her loyalty, then promises to help hunt down and kill Lorca. In a private moment with Georgiou, Mirror Saru (or rather, the nameless Kelpien servant who is the counterpart to our intrepid Captain Saru) admits that he is undergoing vahar’ai and will soon need to be culled. Aware that the vahar’ai is not a death sentence from the U.S.S. Discovery’s exploits at Kaminar in “The Sound of Thunder,” the emperor assures the Kelpien that he will emerge from the process as a new person.
Burnham and the I.S.S. Discovery locate one of Lorca’s top lieutenants in orbit around Risa. When Georgiou and her daughter meet with the uncooperative man in the brig, Burnham reveals that she had been deceiving her mother all along. In typical Terran fashion, Michael and her allies attack Georgiou, but (in an even more Terran style) the emperor springs her own trap and calls in Saru and Tilly as backup. A brutal fight ensues and, in an agonizing instant, Georgiou has no choice but to kill Burnham. Mortally wounded herself, the emperor seems pleased that Saru survived his vahar’ai as she drifts off…
...and awakens in the Prime Universe at the doorway on Dannus V. Georgiou’s memory and the medical device on her wrist indicate she was gone for months, but Prime Burnham assures her that she had been unconscious for only a minute. The strange gatekeeper Carl announces that he is actually the Guardian of Forever, the same space-time portal that transported McCoy, Kirk, and Spock into the past in the iconic episode “The City on the Edge of Forever.”
Prompted to go into hiding on a remote world by the temporal wars, the Guardian explains that Georgiou was brought to the gateway as a way to test whether or not she had been changed for the better by her journey in the Prime reality. Georgiou’s search for peace earns her a second chance at life, as the Guardian plans to send her back in time to a point when the Prime and Mirror Universes were still aligned so that her atomic structure will stabilize. Burnham and Georgiou exchange heartfelt goodbyes, with the Terran expressing confidence that Michael is destined for her own captaincy.
Back on the U.S.S. Discovery, Stamets and Adira search for a way to connect their vessel’s sensors with those of the K.F.S. Khi’eth, the Kelpien starship stranded in the nebula where The Burn originated. Reno arrives and trades humorous barbs, but Book chimes in with the solution: a piece of Emerald Chain technology that amplifies weak subspace signals. Burnham returns without Georgiou, and the crew holds an impromptu service to honor her. Describing the former emperor as being both a mother and a sister to her, Burnham acknowledges that she loved her unexpected friend.
“Terra Firma, Part 2” blends temporal and interdimensional elements to bring the two-part arc to a thrilling conclusion. The Mirror Universe setting connects to Discovery’s first season, while the Guardian of Forever is an unforeseen-but-welcome callback to The Original Series. The episode uncovers many truths about Philippa Georgiou, including the extent to which Michael Burnham and the Prime Universe altered her morals, goals, and perceptions. Georgiou’s stroll through the space-time portal opens up a whole new galaxy of possibilities for her, while Burnham will need to adjust to life without the Terran’s presence. We must wait to learn what becomes of Georgiou, but Discovery’s adventures will pick up once again next week. Stay tuned as we continue to boldly go…
Jay Stobie (he/him) is a freelance writer who has contributed articles to the official Star Trek website and Star Trek Magazine, as well as to Star Wars Insider and the official Star Wars website. Jay also serves as a part-time assistant and consultant advising many actors and creatives who work on his favorite sci-fi shows and films. He can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @StobiesGalaxy.
Star Trek: Discovery streams on Paramount+ in the United States, airs on Bell Media’s CTV Sci-Fi Channel and streams on Crave in Canada, and on Netflix in 190 countries.