In Star Trek: Discovery, Captain Lorca has a Tribble on his desk and a skeleton of a Gorn in his secret lab. Eagle-eyed Trekkies have pointed out that based on the existing Trek chronology, Lorca shouldn’t have access to either of these things. But, if these inconsistencies aren’t canon mistakes, there could be a huge game-changing reason he has this stuff: Lorca might be from the Mirror Universe and masquerading as a Starfleet captain.
On October 2, in an interview with Variety, Jason Isaacs responded to a question about Captain Lorca’s background, saying, “You don’t want to be asking about things that get revealed during the show. But he’s a guy who’s seen a lot of action.” Maybe that action isn’t limited to the regular Trek universe. Maybe Lorca comes from the more savage parallel reality first visited by the U.S.S. Enterprise crew in the classic 1967 episode “Mirror, Mirror.” That’s the one where you knew Spock was evil Spock because he had a little goatee.
We already know that at least one episode of Star Trek: Discovery will take place in the Mirror Universe or deal with the Mirror Universe in some way, shape, or form; Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Jonathan Frakes confirmed as much on September 17.
In the Mirror Universe, everyone is a way bigger asshole than they are in the regular Star Trek timeline. Instead of greeting the Vulcans with open arms in 2063, the Mirror version of Zefram Cochrane shot the Vulcans and stole what was on their ship. In this dimension, Starfleet is a brutal military organization that rules by force, serving an oppressive human-centric Terran Empire. Here, human beings never became enlightened and peaceful. Everyone is a barbarian and acts like a pirate.
In “Mirror, Mirror,” the “good” version of Spock is able to spot the evil Kirk, Bones, Scotty, and Uhura easily. Meanwhile, the good versions of the foursome hang out undetected in the Mirror Universe for a while, letting everyone secretly believe they are their evil counterparts. Spock says this worked because “It was far easier for you as civilized men to act as barbarians than for them as barbarians to act like civilized men.”
But what if, on Discovery, it’s the other way around? What if Lorca has figured out how to act civilized and pass for a “good” Starfleet officer? If we proceed from the premise that Lorca is really Mirror Lorca, several things start to fall into place, starting with his Tribble and Gorn skeleton. If Lorca is from the Mirror Universe, it’s possible he got ahold of these items illegally because he’s good at stuff like that on account of him being evil and all. Or, when he was transported from the Mirror Universe, he had a lot of this stuff with him. Either way, Mirror Universe Lorca loving Tribbles and Gorn skeletons could help explain why the rest of Starfleet doesn’t know about this stuff a decade later.
The Mirror Universe theory also explains Lorca’s general demeanor. This guy acts like he barely wants to be a Starfleet captain. Instead, he’s barking at people like a dictator, hardly conjuring up the heroism of Starfleet. Perhaps there was a “good” version of Lorca in our universe and Mirror Lorca killed him? Or maybe he switched places with him on accident, just like in the classic episode. Could a good version of Lorca be trying to find his way back to the true Discovery dimension?
If Lorca is stranded in the show’s main universe, his motivation to make the Spore Drive work suddenly becomes very different. He doesn’t give a shit about beating the Klingons. He wants to find a way to his world and thinks to circumnavigate the cosmos might hold the key. For the sake of argument, we could also assume that Landry (RIP) was also stranded from the Mirror Universe with him. That’s why the two of them were so cozy, and it might explain why he looked legitimately upset that she died. Up until that point, she was the only other person from his reality trapped in this universe with him.
In the fourth episode of Discovery, Lieutenant Saru dismissively tells Michael Burnham that she will “fit in” with the brutal, self-serving regime of Captain Lorca. As the resident peaceful alien, Saru is aware Lorca is out of control. Hopefully, if this Mirror Universe action turns out to be real, Saru’s threat ganglia will warn him before it’s too late. Because if Lorca is from the Mirror Universe, it’s important to remember there’s no one alive in 2266 who has ever heard it existed. First rule of being from the Mirror Universe? Kill everyone who knows about the Mirror Universe.
Star Trek: Discovery airs at 8:30 pm easter time on CBS All Access.
If you liked this article, check out this video on Inverse’s review of Star Trek: Discovery.