10. Season 2 Must Establish the Captain of Discovery for the Remainder of the Series
So, we have learned just enough from the trailer for Star Trek: Discovery season 2 released at SDCC 2018 to have a tentative grip on the future of Discovery’s captains chair. The valiant Captain Pike (Anson Mount) of the Enterprise is taking what appears temporary command of Discovery under emergency Starfleet regulations. With the appearance of the ominous “red bursts” occurring 30,000 light years away, Discovery is the sole candidate to go poke around given its incredible distance from Federation space.
No question this will be fun to watch, however the idea that this will become a permanent command arrangement seems unlikely. Nor does it truly answer the bigger question going forward.
As Star Trek: Discovery season 2 plows forward, there is a glaring absence that would be terminally traumatic for any of the series predecessors: Who is USS Discovery’s friggin’ captain going to be?
Before season one’s cliffhanger ending encountering THE Enterprise, Discovery was on-route to pick up their new captain on Vulcan. Of course no one bothers to mention who that captain awaiting their new command will be. None of the crew bothers to ask, “who is this new C/O that will be making life or death decisions for me?” For explorers of the final frontier, there was a curious lack of curiosity.
What is more surprising is the seeming total lack of fan interest as to who this captain might be. Though perhaps it’s not altogether shocking given the ironclad nature of the cliff-hanger conclusion dictating the fan bases attention.
The lack of an established captain at any point is unprecedented in Star Trek lore. The only reason Discovery can endure this debacle is entirely due to the narrative structure of the show, and it’s main character being Michael Burnham – an unprecedented form of storytelling that departs from all prior Star Trek series.
For all intents and purposes, the gut intuition indicates that this Captain on Vulcan is likely the Prime Universe incarnation of Gabriel Lorca.
This conclusion is based on one simple reason: How easily the Prime Lorca was written off by Admiral Cornwell (Jayne Brook) and Starfleet Command. It was readily assumed that Lorca could never have survived in the Mirror Universe. Yet this seems remarkably short sighted.
Putting aside the fact there is no certain way to confirm Prime Lorca’s demise, the audience must take note from Discovery’s experience in the Mirror Universe itself.
Most importantly by taking a close look at the alternate versions of established characters they encountered – foremost of which is Commander Landry (Rekha Sharma).
The Reality of Mirror Universe Doppelgänger’s in Star Trek: Discovery
The late USS Discovery Chief of Security, Commander Ellen Landry is very telling in this regard. In Landry’s Prime Universe incarnation, she would hardly be anyone’s first choice as a Federation diplomat.
Landry projects a rough personal exterior, an inclination for solving problems with a phaser, and to a degree possesses a bigotry toward non-human species and cultures. It’s fair to say Landry would have had trouble making friends on Picard’s Enterprise.
When the audience is introduced to Landry’s Mirror Universe alternate, it’s revealed that she was a key member of Lorca’s failed coup who then was being endlessly tortured in retribution. Yet the only difference between the two Landry’s is their respective allegiances.
In the Prime Universe, Landry dutifully served under Lorca’s command, as well as that of Starfleet. Yet almost none of her other characteristics were seemingly different. This is the critical point regarding how the writers might be thinking about Discovery’s foray into the Mirror Universe, and how it may impact future events in Star Trek: Discovery season 2. Nor does this revelation apply to only one minor reoccurring character alone. Cadet Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman) comes to a similar realization about her mirror self.
Tilly vs. Killy
When then Cadet Tilly undergoes introspection upon learning of her Mirror counterpart – the one and only Captain Killy – Tilly’s reflections very aptly identify the subtle differences between her and her Mirror Universe self – aside from the obvious preference for recreational genocide.
In Tilly’s view, the difference between her and the nightmarish Killy is the warped nature of their shared ambitions. Specifically how Killy has been contorted to create a pariah that fits seamlessly into a ludicrously satanic empire.
However at their shared core the two versions of Tilly are not altogether dissimilar. It is their life circumstances that have dictated entirely different personal outcomes. One has been twisted into a mass murderer in the name of human superiority, while the other is an example of the best Starfleet and the Federation has to offer.
Where Lorca Fits
When this reasoning is applied to Gabriel Lorca, a great deal begins to fall into place. If the Mirror Lorca was so cunning as to mask his origins, get himself in line to command Starfleets great strategic secret weapon, then use it to return to his native Mirror Universe, there is absolutely no reason to believe the characters Prime Universe version would be any less capable. Not even in a setting far more barbaric than that of his origin.
Even with the Prime Universe being an altogether smoother ride by comparison, Mirror Lorca could have been exposed at anytime and failed.
Above all else, introducing the Prime Lorca provides the writers with a singular opportunity to keep developing an altogether highly unorthodox Starfleet captain. Lorca is the perfect captain for the motif Discovery has embarked upon.
Even if his Prime Universe self is a more measured and pacific product than the twirling mustachio super villain of season one, Lorca will never be anything close to what fans have come to expect from other Starfleet captains. For what its worth that is a golden narrative asset, and one that would be abjectly criminal to waste.
Official Evidence for Lorca Prime
When asked at SDCC 2018 if Star Trek: Discovery season 2 will encounter the Prime Lorca, Alex Kurtzman’s one word response was, “Maybe.” It’s hardly going out on a limb to conclude that his no-so-cryptic answer equates to a tacit confirmation.
If indeed the prospect of Jason Isaacs returning to portray the Prime Gabriel Lorca comes to pass, it can only signal that the writers are on the best path for Discovery’s long term viability. Long story short, he’s just too damned good. More importantly, Lorca is vastly superior to any other possible alternatives moving forward.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 – In Short
With all of the possibilities Star Trek: Discovery season 2 has before it, its clear that its the swing season for the entire series. The inaugural season, however generally positive in its outcome, was but the first at-bat. From Klingons to possible captains, Discovery season 2 will dictate the trajectory and tempo for the remainder of the series.
Despite whatever direction they may choose to proceed, it is most important that they do so assertively. Once again, with the entire franchise a midst great change and possibility as a whole, never has it been so important that they proceed as boldly as their longtime credo has demanded.
Write to Paul K. DiCostanzo at firstname.lastname@example.org
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