Star Trek: Discovery – “Terra Firma (Pt 1.)” (S3, E9 review) / The Mandalorian – “Chapter 15: The Believer” (S2, E7 review)

Pretty on the outside, not so much within (image via StarTrek.com (c) CBS)

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY

SPOILERS AHEADAND THE MOTHER OF ALL THERAPY SESSIONS …

So, here’s the thing – if you want to maintain good health, what you should not do, and to be fair it’s hard to avoid doing it in the Star Trek universe so you’re work cut out for you, is shift from one multiverse reality to another and then travel 930 years into the future.

As it turns out, it’s not all that good for you.

Just ask Lieutenant Commander Yor, a deceased time soldier from the Temporal Wars, who is used as Exhibit A by Kovich (David Cronenberg) as why it is a wholly bad idea to jump willy-nilly back and forth through time and dimensions, and of course, onetime Terran emperor Philippa Georgiou (Michell Yeoh) who is finding herself phasing ever more in and out of her new current reality in ways that make life unbearable (and drinking wine near impossible).

“You think you are so different from her. You have the same need to bend people to your will. The only difference is that you lie about it to yourself.”

“Does all that mean you’re coming?”

“Lead me to my death, Angel Burnham.” (Georgiou and Burnham)

The only solution it seems is to go to Dannus V, an uninhabited place out in the boondocks near the Gamma Quadrant, which is clad in layers of icy snow and populated by a newspaper reading man named Carl (Paul Guilfoyle) who seems quite content to talk in riddles and usher Georgiou through doors that lead nowhere.

Ah, but as we all know from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, doors can be all kinds of things and lead all kinds of places and so it is in this instance with Georgiou, who is facing death within the next 24 hours, having no choice but to head off a mystical ride to god knows where.

As it turns out, it is smack bang in the alternate universe – though she insists in calling it the Prime Universe which is, as Saru (Doug Jones) acknowledges with his usual equanimous calm, entirely fair – where she is plunged back into the sordidly cruel and dark affairs of the Terran Empire.

A little bit 930 years, a little bit 19th century Alice in Wonderland (image via StarTrek.com (c) CBS)

It seems, in “Terra Firma (Pt. 1)” that we have ourselves another mirror episode, and what’s fascinating about this, apart from seeing Amy Wiseman, Anthony Rapp et al, playing darkly conspiratorial version of their squeaky clean Federation selves, is watching how out of sync Georgiou now is in a place she once ruthlessly called her own.

She likes to think she’s as coldly prickly as ever, but truth be told, she is a little softer than she once was and is even heaven forfend, a little warmed at being farewelled by Saru and Tilly (Amy Wiseman).

Quite what her purpose is in being back in the nefarious thick of things is not made clear in the first part of this two-parter, where the Emerald Chain are also getting ready for some kind of military op and Tal (Blu del Barrio) and Stamets (Anthony Rapp) work out the distress signal from the Burn’s point of origin is actually from a Kelpien, Dr. Issa of the KSF Khi’eth), but it looks like some kind of reckoning is on its way and if Georgiou is involved, it won’t be tame and well-mannered.

“Let me make myself clear. Lorca’s coup will fail, Michael will return to the fold, and the path of what has been set in motion will change, because I will change it!”

“My apologies, Emperor. You know I seek only to protect you, and so I must tell you that if this situation were known, you would risk losing the trust of your loyalists, and they will show you no mercy.”

“Then I will need you to make certain that it is not known by anyone. I will not die today. I know Michael. It is not too late for her to make a different choice.” (Georgiou and mirror Tilly aka Captain Killy)

It turns out that Georgiou is back at the time of the first uprising where Lorca (Jason Isaacs) and her adopted daughter Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) are plotting to take the throne from her.

It’s all very murky and labyrinthine and while Georgiou looks like she’s back in her element, she’s far from being comfortable, even going so far as to rescue Saru from being killed – in this reality he and his race are slaves, a possession to be disposed of as needed by the heartless officers of the Terran Empire – and to stop Burnham being executed when she is revealed as a traitor.

Georgiou has even committed the grave sin of caring about the welfare of artists and in a world where weakness is swiftly followed by death, that’s unpardonable offence.

Quite where this is all leading isn’t made abundantly clear, that’s what sequel episodes are for, but it is intriguing to see the onetime terror of the Terran Empire back in her natural habitat and finding that it doesn’t fit as snugly as it once did.

As therapy sessions go, it’s a doozy …

Wave patterns have never been so fascinating as when TV ceased to exist as an entertainment option (image via StarTrek.com (c) CBS)

THE MANDALORIAN

They could be singing flamboyant pop tunes and we’d never know (image via The Mandalorian wiki (c) Star Wars/Disney)

SPOILERS AHEAD … AND MORE STORMTROOPERS THAN YOU CAN POINT A BADLY-FIRED LASER RIFLE AT …

Another episode of The Mandalorian and not one but two planets which, if you Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal), is filling your planetary bingo card rather nicely.

Not that is the aim of the exercise but if it were, Din would be streets ahead of anyone else.

No, what he wants more than anything, as any father looking for his kid would, is to find out where Grogu aka the Child is, and find him quickly before Moff Gideon (Giancarlo Eposito) does unspeakable things in the name of the Empire to him.

And you know from last week’s episode, and the events of season 1, that they’re not exactly arranging playdates for the kid.

So, in a relatively quiet episode, well relative to the last two action-packed instalments, we were taken to the Karthon Chop Fields, where only the best New Republic prisoners are housed in metal cutting servitude, to pick up ex-Imperial sharpshooter Migs Mayfeld (Bill Burr) who is integral to the team of Din aka Mando, Boba Fett (Temuera Morrison), Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen), and Marshall Cara Dune (Gina Carano) making into an Empire mining facility on the jungle planet of Morak wherein lies a terminal where they can access the location of Gideon’s ship. (Yeah, it’s all a tad narratively convenient and you might wonder why no one puts security protocols on the damn thing but hey, it moves the plot along to next week’s finale so let’s just pretend it’s all completely believable.)

Why are they heading to a mining facility where the commodity being moved around is highly flammable, the sort of thing that the Indigenous peoples of the planet, who rather resent being colonised when most everyone else is living lines of delicious if chaotic freedom, love to blow up.

Easy as pie, right?

Great armour, terrible shots (image via The Mandalorian wiki (c) Star Wars/Disney)

Well no, not really because to get the coordinates, Mando and Mayfield have to drive an Imperial Juggernaut through the jungle, all while dressed rather fetchingly as cargo transporters, all while trying to survive near continuous attacks by the pesky rebels, and then waltz into the officers’ lounge to access the helpfully-unguarded terminal (an action which requires Mando, against his creed, to take off his helmet; want proof of how he loves Grogu? You have it, and rather handsomely too, thank you Pedro).

It actually goes smoother than you might expect, until, and yes, there’s always an “until” isn’t there, Mayfield, who nurses some major resentment at the way the Empire callously killed off entire cities and thousands upon thousands of its own troops, decides to exact revenge by killing his former commanding officer Valin Hess (Richard Brake) while they’re having the most awkward drinks in the history of just about everything.

So much for sneaking in and out of the facility without making a ruckus, huh?

They survive it all okay because naturally a showdown with Gideon awaits, and awaits very soon, and while there is all kinds of shooting and explosions and kaboomy noises, what makes “Chapter 15: The Believer” really memorable is that we see time and again what Mando will do rescue his son.

Yes, his son; for all intents and purposes that is precisely what Grogu is to him, and while he can talk all he likes about completing his mission and returning the Child to his own kind, the reality is he can no more leave his charge between than wantonly take off his helmet.

Yes, we get to see Mando and the gang take one big step closer to Moff Gidfeon, who looks a little taken aback when Mando cuts through the comms channels and warns him he’s about to go down in a big way, but what really cuts through in this episode, and which gives The Mandalorian, its luminously beating heart, is how much Mando an Grogu belong together.

We don’t see Grogu in the episode but that’s okay because we know he and Mando will be reunited soon and all will be well … well, we hope that’s what will happen.

I can’t help but feel that with season 3 confirmed for Christmas 2021, things may not go as smoothly as Mando and his friends would want.

But hey, like all of the second season of this amazingly good Star Wars show – soon to be joined by a gazillion others as announced at Disney’s 2020 Investor’s Day on 10 December – it will be brilliantly entertaining, emotionally resonant and heartstoppingly good.

The tourists loved coming to the Scrapyards of Who the Hell Booked This Holiday? (image via The Mandalorian wiki (c) Star Wars/Disney)
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