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Star Trek Theory: Discovery Is Repeating One Of TNG's Best Episodes

Warning: SPOILERS for Star Trek: Discovery season 3, episode 9, "Terra Firma, Part I"

The storyline of Star Trek: Discovery episode "Terra Firma, Part I" bears several similarities to "Tapestry," a popular episode from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Discovery, season 3, episode 9, deals mostly with Emperor Georgiou going back in time to the Mirror Universe, with the help of a mysterious entity she and Michael Burnham meet on a deserted planet. Georgiou's return to the Mirror Universe is an attempt to stop her from dying from molecular collapse brought on by her time travel and universe hopping.

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"Tapestry," the 15th episode of the 6th season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, is another story about a near-death experience, this time involving Captain Jean-Luc Picard. In the episode, Picard's artificial heart is damaged in an attack by an alien species, leading to him suffer a heart attack. As the crew works to try and revive him, Picard is forced by Q, the omnipotent being who likes to occasionally cause trouble for the Enterprise, to relive the events that lead up to him receiving his artificial heart. Ultimately, Q shows Picard that these events are actually integral to who he is and how his life has turned out.

While the two episodes might not seem to have much to do with each other on the surface, there are many ways in which they are very similar. Georgiou's return to a specific point in her past mirrors Captain Picard's, especially since both characters returned to correct events that they regret. There is also evidence to suggest that the mystery being helping Georgiou is a Q. If this is the case, then "Terra Firma, Part I" is closely following the story idea of "Tapestry."

Emperor Georgiou Returns To The Mirror Universe

"Terra Firma, Part I" marks the first time that Star Trek: Discovery has set an episode in the Mirror Universe since its first season. After finding out the reason for Emperor Georgiou's declining health, Dr. Culber consults Discovery's computer and the Sphere data in hopes that it will be able to suggest a way to help her. The computer suggests taking Georgiou to Dannus 5, an uninhabited planet in the Gamma Quadrant. While there is still a slim chance of Georgiou's survival, Discovery's crew decides that it is worth the risk, and with Admiral Vance's permission the ship jumps to Dannus 5.

Georgiou beams down to the planet along with Michael Burnham, and the two women begin to search for whatever the Sphere data thought could provide a solution. After some wandering around in the snow, they encounter an entity who calls himself Carl and insists that Georgiou must go through a mysterious door if she wants a chance of getting better. Georgiou takes the risk and goes through the door, finding herself back in the Mirror Universe on the day that the Mirror versions of Gabriel Lorca and Michael Burnham betrayed her and began a coup.

It would seem that by going through the door, Georgiou has not only crossed back to her own universe but also time-traveled back to a pivotal moment in her past. Whether or not her experiences are actually happening is left unclear; she may be taking part in a simulation conjured by Carl. What is clear, however, is that Georgiou certainly thinks that what is happening is real, and is determined to make different choices than she did the first time around. If the events of the episode are real, then Georgiou's actions are altering not only the timeline of the Mirror Universe but also the Prime Universe timeline, since the two are inextricably linked by Star Trek: Discovery season 1.

Evidence That Carl Is A Q

Even though Discovery's latest mystery character apparently calls himself Carl, there is a fair amount of evidence to suggest that he is part of the Q continuum. The Q are an omnipotent and all-powerful species who are extremely long-lived, and generally enjoy toying with the lives of other species in an attempt to alleviate their boredom. Carl certainly seems to fit this description, immediately aware of who Michael and Georgiou are and of what Georgiou is suffering from, and even seeming to know what will happen when Georgiou walks through his door.

More importantly, however, Carl acts like a Q. His interactions with Michael and Georgiou all have the same touch of whimsy that the Q imbue themselves with, and his sudden appearance is very in keeping with how the Q tend to appear and disappear at will. From his evasive yet all-knowing air, to the little touches that make the whole interaction seem so fantastical, it is clear that Carl is entirely in control of the situation, and is enjoying having all the power to boot. His scenes during the episode have an extremely similar feel to any scene involving a Q across the myriad Star Trek episodes in which they appear.

"Carl" is certainly an unusual name for a Q, as most of them simply chose to go by "Q" barring a few exceptions. The Q also do not hold a monopoly on all-powerful beings in the Star Trek universe, and Carl could very well turn out to be another type of omnipotent entity. If Carl is a Q though, it would be yet another clever tie-in to the broader Star Trek universe, something that Star Trek: Discovery has done in season 3 to great effect. Additionally, if Carl is a Q, his introduction would cement the connection between "Terra Firm, Part I" and "Tapestry" and mean that Star Trek: Discovery is taking a page out of Star Trek: The Next Generation's book in the creation of its latest episode.

Theory: Discovery Is Repeating TNG's "Tapestry" Episode

While there are differences between "Terra Firma, Part I" and "Tapestry," the basic premises are extremely similar. Both involve a character on the brink of certain death, and both characters are helped by an entity who gives them the chance to go back in time and change the course of their life. In "Tapestry," Q allowed Picard to stop the fight that almost got him killed and caused him to need his artificial heart. Once Picard had changed his own history, however, he was forced to confront the fact that one of the events he regretted most in his past was actually the thing that shaped him the most as a person. Q showed Picard that he was better off for having participated in the fight because it made him more of a risk-taker which was what ultimately set Picard on the path to captaincy.

For Georgiou, the events she has changed mainly involve her killing of the Mirror Universe version of Michael Burnham. At the end of "Terra Firm, Part I" Georgiou spares Mirror Michael's life instead of executing her for treason. She is clearly convinced that she is getting a second chance to right some wrongs, and intends to take full advantage of it. What is not yet clear is whether or not Georgiou sparing Michael's life means she will get to see how different the course of her own life might be as a result. Georgiou may be forced to choose between changing her history or letting events play out as they were for the greater good, just as Picard was forced to do.

Whatever the outcome of the changes Emperor Georgiou is making to her past, it is safe to say that "Terra Firma, Part I" has certainly left fans with a lot of questions. These questions and more, including who or what Carl really is, will hopefully be answered in Part II. If Carl does end up being a Q, it will not only mean that "Terra Frima" is Star Trek: Discovery's version of "Tapestry," but will also mean a fun opportunity for fans to catch a glimpse of the Q in the 32nd century.

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