The biggest twist in the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery is easily the return of Captain Philippa Georgiou played by Michelle Yeoh. Except of course, she’s not Captain Georgiou anymore, that’s Emperor Georgiou, to you. But, will this triumphant return of Yeoh to the Trek fold relegate her to being a one-note baddie? Or, could this evil Georgiou turn good?
Since the two-part pilot episode of Star Trek: Discovery killed-off Michelle Yeoh’s beloved Captain just as she was starting to get popular, fans have been confused. Early press for the show seemed to imply Yeoh was a regular cast member, and perhaps even the lead. After the character’s death, her shadow has loomed large for the characters of Michael Burnham and Commander Saru, but now that they are face-to-face with a living, breathing version of Georgiou, seemingly native to the evil Mirror Universe, what is everyone going to do?
If Emperor Georgiou turns out to be only evil, it won’t be a bad decision per se. Obviously Yeoh will give a great performance regardless of the direction the story takes. But, the inherent danger of someone becoming an evil doppelganger, is that the doppelganger lacks any subtly and thus, can become boring. Georgiou being the evil Emperor of the Terran Empire is badass, of course. But badass isn’t the same as interesting. So far, Discovery has proven its ability to subvert audience expectations, even when larger plot details have been deduced. For example, many fans suspected something was up with Lt. Tyler, but the way it’s played out is different and more subtle than anyone could have expected.
Hopefully, the same will be true of the new evil Georgiou storyline. Perhaps Burnham can talk some sense into this version of her former mentor the same way Kirk talked some sense into evil Spock in “Mirror, Mirror.” Sure, it might be an homage that’s a little on-the-nose, but it would resonate as being truer to the spirit of Star Trek than just depicting Georgiou as a tyrant. If this new Trek will continue to boldly go where no version of the franchise has gone before, then that means thinking differently about bad guys, too.
Star Trek: Discovery airs its remaining four episodes of its first season over the next four Sundays. Each episode will air on Sunday night at 8:30 pm eastern time on CBS All-Access.