Star Trek Discovery Reveals the Real Reason It Hasn’t Felt Like Your Standard Star Trek Story

Spoilers for Star Trek Discovery 1×12: Vaulting Ambition Ahead!

Ever since Star Trek Discovery started people have commented that it didn’t feel like a real Star Trek series. It was different in a lot of ways and obviously much darker. A lot of people have blamed shows like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead for making series feel compelled to be darker and edgier. And we know that’s true. But narratively the show explained it’s darker turn in a reveal that has been twelve episodes in the making.

Star Trek Discovery hasn’t felt quite like a Star Trek series because it hasn’t been just a Star Trek series.

It’s been a Star Trek series corrupted by the Mirror Universe from the very beginning.

In a shocking twist it was revealed that Captain Gabriel Lorca was not the Lorca from the primary continuity but an evil doppleganger who had crossed over from the Mirror Universe. The crew of the Discovery has been trapped in this other dimension ever since the end of the first half of the season. But unbeknownst to viewers until this week we’ve been dealing with the Mirror Universe for a lot longer. 

We’ve always wondered what’s up with ‘creepy’ Captain Lorca.

He hasn’t quite fit the standard mold for a Starfleet captain from the start. He’s brash, ambitious, and far less forgiving. He made hard choices even when they ran contrary to Starfleet protocol. Even to those who knew him long before the show started he seemed to have taken a darker turn which was understandable considering the backstory they wove for him.

To be honest, I liked that about him.

He was something different.

Now, though, we’re learning that there’s a much darker truth to all of it. The real Lorca presumably died when his first ship was destroyed before he took command of Discovery allowing this ‘evil’ Lorca to take command. And so the darkness we’ve been seeing in large part can be traced back to Lorca’s unforgiving, ambitious nature as a hateful, warmongering officer of the Terran Empire. 

Lorca’s willingness to imprison and subject the tardigrade to experimentation, his willingness to allow Stamets to take it’s place, his abandonment of Harry Mudd, and cruel disregard when Admiral Cornwell is abducted all make so much more sense now. He doesn’t care because he really just doesn’t care about any of them. This universe means nothing to him — and even if he were inclined to care he wouldn’t because he’s lived his entire life within the Terran Empire.

All of this has bled into the way he’s run Discovery. It’s all bled into the way he directs the crew and the missions they have undertaken. It’s given the show an actual reason for taking it’s darker direction rather than just chalking it up to being what audiences expect these days. And it also explains his weird fixation with Michael Burnam that has apparently held over from his infatuation with the Mirror Universe version of Burnam. 

Hell, it even explains the issue with his eyes that has been popping up throughout the series.

Now that Lorca is back in his own universe he has the opportunity to once again move against the emperor in an attempt to take her thrown for himself. And we’re left to realize that this is what he’s wanted the whole season. I’m not entirely sure how Lorca made it to the primary universe. It presumably had something to do with his initial ship’s destruction. But it put him in the right place to take command of the Discovery, manipulate Stamets into continuing his work with the spore drive under his watchful eye, and eventually use all of that to break back into his own universe.

As Mirror Stamets explains, he was working on the same technology and Lorca – being so high up in the Terran Empire – would have known that without a doubt. It explains why he was so determined to continue that line of experimentation despite how dangerous it was for Stamets. The fact that he got to continue killing non-humans (though albeit just Klingons in this universe) was undoubtedly just icing on the cake. He could get what he wanted and still get the thrill of taking on Klingons.

It’s just crazy how much of this show takes on a completely new meaning in retrospect.

“Vaulting Ambition” has changed everything and we can’t see what the next three episodes hold. I will say, though, it’s going to be sad saying goodbye to Jason Isaac even if his Captain Lorca ended up being a murderous usurper from a different universe. But I can’t imagine he’ll be continuing on to the next season since we’re all pretty sure the real Captain Lorca is dead and this is still Star Trek. As dark as it may be the good guys are going to undoubtedly win in the end.

Unless evil Captain Lorca tries to invade the primary continuity in the season finale. I’d be so down with that.

Otherwise, here’s to hoping for Captain Saru next season!