‘Star Trek: Discovery’ 3×09 review: ‘Terra Firma, Part 1’

Star Trek Discovery 309 Terra Firma Saru Tilly

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Star Trek: Discovery launches into its special two-parter of the season, “Terra Firma,” where Georgiou must relive the fateful day where her Burnham betrayed her. Introduced to this day/memory by a mysterious man, or should I say Q, it’s clear that there should be some story or lesson Georgiou must learn to keep her life. And Kelpiens!

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“Terra Prima, Part 1” takes place in two halves, in two different places — in our universe and in Georgiou’s. While Saru and the crew make unsurprising findings regarding the ship trapped in The Burn, the most important being who inhabited it, Georgiou is tasked with traveling to a planet in order to have a very slim chance to live.

The Terran half of the episode is by far the most interesting and strongest part. The emotional beats delivered in this half are bolstered by small moments during Georgious’ (albeit small) goodbye tour. Saru has mostly gotten on with Georgiou, and they have a simple goodbye, overshadowed by Tilly’s emotional hug, which still takes the Terran back as she manages to pat at Tilly’s shoulders.

These moments play important parts as Georgiou manages to navigate her Terran home-universe, but what of everything else?

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Adira’s moments seem restricted to Stamets, which is unfortunate. Finding yourself is no easy task, and while they are clearly connected to Stamets, at this point, their only screentime unrelated to plot development is with him. Discovery is on its third season at this point and integrating into a cast as familiar with each other as this one requires more work.

Adira feels like they’ve been put into a cage, which is doubly concerning considering the important representation they provide for so many fans who are non-binary. Discovery doesn’t even utilize the fact that Adira comes from a different time. They could put forth very interesting information that could help the mission. Adira has so much potential that just seems wasted and for no discernable reason. With only four episodes left and one of those possibly set in a different reality, there’s no time left to squander.

On the opposite end of this, Star Trek has done a much better job introducing Book into the cast in its third season. Beyond the seamless way he fits in with Michael (radiant chemistry included), he’s had interactions with Saru, Georgiou, and Tilly (even if by way of Grudge). Throwing a cat into the mix is a sure way to provoke interest. From Porthos to Spot, a Trek pet is always a good idea.

Adira is a character that Star Trek needs, and Book is a character immediatiely engaging, even if he doesn’t exactly fill the gap that Adira fills. Hopefully there’s a way to bring Book’s elements to Adira — it’s what they both deserve.


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And then there’s the decrypted video message. The people who were trapped in The Burn (yet, their ship still has integrity) are… Kelpiens.

We love Saru. He’s one of Discovery’s best characters, and his journey as he confronted fear is a storyline like no other. In season three, he’s had a much more subtle way to shine. His stories haven’t been the A-plot or B-plot for the most part, but have been laced in throughout the entire season.

He’s hit some speed bumps as he’s learned to navigate his new role, and his relationship with the new Admiral (please don’t be evil) has opened his eyes and allowed him to learn. These are the stories that make Saru so interesting, and like some of the other characters fans loved on Star Trek — Spock, Data, etc. — he’s so very human.

So, is involving the Kelpiens into the lore plot of the season, really what Saru needs? The choice is easy; it isn’t unexpected. There are still four episodes left in the season, so maybe it will connect to Saru’s growth in a satisfying way, but my gut feeling says no.


What’s becoming more and more interesting in this season of Discovery mostly speaks to Saru, and drove the U.S.S. Discovery to the future in the first place — The Sphere Data. This AI, which operates a deus ex machina, is beginning to feel like a character on its own and could potentially be what gives Starfleet the upper hand in providing stability to their galaxy.

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And what is “Terra Prima” without the Emporer, herself?

This time on Star Trek: The Mirror Episodes, the anomaly that The Sphere Data detected that could save Georgiou seems to be a Q (it’s very Q-like) and with a hasty goodbye to Michael, she steps through the door and it’s back to fascism, baby.

Q-arl introduces Georgiou to undo her biggest regret and save the most important person to her in the process. This is a journey of redemption for Georgiou. Through her knowledge of the past, and her newfound relationships with species and individuals from those species, she’s able to finally unearth the root of the betrayal.


(As an aside: Terran Michael Burnam is …. wow. Heart. Eyes.)

The problem with the root of this coup is that they’re kind of right.

Georgiou is certainly not soft when it comes to Starfleet standards, but if the Terrans around her noticed this before she even had the excuse of her time in the other time changing her, then maybe this is who Georgiou really is. Georgiou has some major soul-searching to do, and thankfully it’s on the Terran side because these costumes, choreography, and direction are fun.

Though, Georgiou’s side journey isn’t surprising at all, considering that her spin-off is in the works, and she’s currently stuck in the 32nd century.

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“Terra Prime, Part 1” leaves the audience waiting in the heat of the moment. Georgiou herself isn’t quite predictable and she has a lot of space to cover before her own show hits the air (COVID has this completely up in the air).

Here’s to hoping for a Lorca cameo in part 2!

Star Trek: Discovery airs on CBS All Access on Thursdays.


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