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Star Trek Theory: Emperor Georgiou's Discovery Illness Is From Voyager

Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Discovery season 3, episode 8, "The Sanctuary".

Star Trek: Discoveryrevealed that Emperor Georgiou is dying from what appears to be a traumatic repressed memory, but she may be suffering from a virus that was first introduced in Star Trek: Voyager. Since Star Trek: Discovery season 3, episode 5, Georgiou has been experiencing lapses in concentration and flashbacks to a death she was involved in of someone named San. These experiences are painful and have occasionally left her catatonic. Episode 8, "The Sanctuary", provided a few more clues to this storyline, showing Georgiou reluctantly accepting a medical examination by Doctor Culber and Doctor Pollard to determine the source of her issues. Ultimately, the doctors were able to determine that Georgiou is dying but remained unsure of the cause.

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Georgiou's illness might seem mysterious, but something similar already has precedent in Star Trek canon. In a season 3 episode of Star Trek: Voyager, "Flashback", Lieutenant Tuvok began suffering from what he believed was a repressed childhood memory of a time that he let a young girl fall off a cliff to her death. To cure himself, Tuvok performed a mind-meld with Captain Janeway in an attempt to bring the memory forward. During this process, however, Voyager's holographic Doctor discovered that the memory was not a memory, but instead a virus that fed on the brain's neural peptides.

The repressed memory that Emperor Georgiou seems to be dealing with could actually be caused by the same virus that affected Tuvok in "Flashback". Her symptoms are extremely similar to Tuvok's, and because of the virus's nature, the fact that Doctor Culber and Doctor Pollard cannot figure out what is wrong with Georgiou makes sense. Additionally, Georgiou's symptoms began after her interview with Kovich, the mysterious agent who debriefed her when the Discovery arrived at Federation headquarters. If the virus is what Georgiou is suffering from, there is a good chance that Kovich infected her with it deliberately.

Georgiou's Virus Acts Like A Repressed Memory

It is revealed in "Flashback" that, in order to feed off its host's neural peptides, the virus disguises itself as a memory engram so traumatic that the brain needs to repress it in order to keep the host safe. Once the memory is successfully repressed, the virus is able to live in the host's brain undetected. This was the case with Tuvok until he and Captain Janeway tried to return to the repressed memory. They instead ended up in the memories of Tuvok's time aboard the USS Excelsior, serving under Captain Sulu. In reality, the Excelsior was where Tuvok contracted the virus, becoming infected by a dying crew member during a battle with the Klingons. His mind pulled up those memories instead of the memory of the girl, and the Doctor was able to determine that the repressed memory was actually the virus because of this. Had the mind-meld not been done though, the virus might have continued to go undetected.

The nature of the virus means that if Georgiou is suffering from it, it is no surprise that Doctor Pollard and Doctor Culber are unable to find what is wrong with her. Of course, it is likely that Voyager's Doctor would have made a record of the virus that would be available to them in the 32nd century. It is also true that the two doctors are using more advanced technology than would have even been available to Voyager to diagnose Georgiou. However, if the virus still exists in the 32nd century, it is likely that it has mutated and become more advanced as well, meaning that it could still be very difficult to diagnose because of the way it disguises itself.

The Virus Would Explain Why Georgiou Is Dying

If what is happening to Emperor Georgiou is really a repressed memory, then her strong reaction to it does not make sense. Since the start of her illness, Georgiou has been getting exponentially worse, her episodes with the memory causing her increasing pain and blackouts. While Doctor Culber did not specify what was wrong with her after running tests, a peek at her test results told Georgious that she is dying because of whatever is happening to her.

When the virus is introduced into the equation, however, Georgiou's alarming deterioration is more believable. A simple repressed memory would be much easier to diagnose than the virus and could be cured with rigorous therapy and potentially medication. Since Georgiou is Terran, it would still be difficult to get her to accept this kind of help, but her condition would likely not be as debilitating as it is if it were truly just a psychological problem. A virus is much more virulent, and especially if this particular virus has mutated and become stronger in the 32nd century, it would go a long way to explain why Georgiou is in such ill health after only a relatively short period of time.

Kovich Infected Georgiou With The Virus

Kovich, a mysterious Starfleet agent played by famous horror director David Cronenberg, was first introduced in Star Trek: Discovery season 3, episode 5, "Die Trying". While his affiliation is not explicitly stated, there is evidence to suggest that he may be a member of Section 31, judging from his clothing and badge. After Georgiou disabled the holograms that he was using to interrogate her, Kovich took over the debrief himself and attempted to discern Georgiou's true motivations for accompanying Discovery's crew to the 32nd century. Interestingly, it was directly after her interview with Kovich that Georgiou began experiencing the first symptoms of her illness.

Kovich's behavior during the interview suggests that he had some ulterior motives for interrogating Georgiou, and while these motives have not yet been made clear, context clues support the idea that he is the instigator of what is happening to her. If the virus is the cause of Georgiou's symptoms, Kovich may have deliberately infected her with it during their interview. Section 31 has always used questionable methods to attain their goals, and it is likely that in the future they have found a way to weaponize things like the virus. There are also a number of reasons that Section 31 might want to get rid of Georgiou. Starfleet and the Federation have been severely reduced by The Burn, and are not nearly as equipped to deal with potential threats as they used to be. Georgiou's Terran identity would likely make her one such threat in their eyes, and Section 31 may have been tasked to eliminate her before she becomes a problem. If this is the case, then the virus would be an extremely effective way to do that, especially if it has been taken and developed as a biological weapon by Section 31.

While things might seem bleak for Emperor Georgiou, all hope is not lost just yet. Voyager's Doctor was able to kill the strain of the virus infecting Tuvok with thoron radiation, and if Discovery's doctors are able to determine what is wrong with Georgiou, they may still be able to develop a cure, perhaps using the Doctor's technique as a template. If the virus is the cause of Georgiou's illness, its discovery and elimination would provide another clever tie-in for Star Trek: Discovery to the wider Star Trek universe, something the show has been doing to great effect so far in season 3.

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