What happens in the Mirror Universe stays in the Mirror Universe.
Well, sort of! In Star Trek: Discovery Season 3, Michelle Yeoh’s Emperor Georgiou went back to the wicked ways of the evilest dimension. In doing so, Georgiou possibly laid the groundwork for a long-rumored Section 31 series — and possibly created a Mirror Universe of the Mirror Universe.
With Discovery Season 4 set for release this fall, and the Discovery Season 3 Blu-ray coming out July 20, we’ve got an exclusive look at one deleted scene from the Mirror Universe.
Here’s the exclusive clip, and what it means in the context of the expanded Trek multiverse. Spoilers ahead for Discovery Season 3 episodes 9 and 10, “Terra Firma Parts 1 and 2.”
As reset buttons go, Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 was the biggest reboot of the Trek franchise since J.J. Abrams took the reins in 2009. Not only did the crew of the Enterprise leap from the year 2258 to the year 3188, but the Trek multiverse was also deepened by references to the Kelvin Universe, an exploration of how the Mirror Universe connects to the Prime Universe, and the possible creation of a branched timeline within the Mirror Universe.
For two shocking episodes within Season 3 — “Terra Firma Parts 1 and 2” — Georgiou briefly departed the 32nd century and jumped back to 2256 in the Mirror Universe, before the events of Discovery. Although Georgiou was originally snatched from the Mirror Universe in Season 1, she’s certainly come a long way as a character since then. When she finds herself back in the Mirror Universe, Georgiou finds it difficult to pretend to be evil again.
Here’s the exclusive deleted scene.
In this deleted scene, we get a glimpse of Georgiou trying to convince Mirror Tilly (Captain “Killy”) that she’s still a merciless, unfeeling ruler. But the subtlety of the scene is that she’s telling Mirror Tilly to stop torturing Mirror Burnham. Without revealing too much, Georgiou is actually asking for mercy for Mirror Burnham — while trying to convince Mirror Tilly she’s not.
The scene is small, but there’s one big reason it shouldn’t have been cut from “Terra Firma Part 2.” Namely, the scene contains a secret shout-out to Captain Kirk and Mirror Spock from The Original Series episode “Mirror, Mirror.”
That 1967 episode featured Trek’s first “discovery” of the Mirror Universe, and Kirk spent part of its runtime in pretty much the exact same position Georgiou ends up in. Kirk has to pretend to be a ruthless dictator, quietly pushing for mercy without arousing suspicion. The Discovery deleted scene references Kirk’s dilemma “Mirror, Mirror” in two big ways.
First: the screen Tilly and Georgiou watch Burnham being tortured on is reminiscent of a screen in Mirror Kirk’s quarters called “the Tantalus Field,” used to zap Mirror Kirk’s enemies away with a touch of a button. Prime Kirk refused to use this observation/assassination device on Mirror Spock, which surprised Marlena Moreau, prompting her to say, “You're a stranger. Mercy to the Halkans, mercy to Spock, to me.”
This DISCO deleted scene also references “Mirror, Mirror” more directly in that Georgiou is ordering Tilly to stop using the agony booth on Mirror Burnham, exactly as Kirk instructed Mirror Spock to do in “Mirror, Mirror” (though he was advocating in that episode on behalf of Mirror Chekov). In both instances, the person being tortured had previously tried to assassinate the person showing them mercy. Mirror Chekov tried to kill Kirk in “Mirror, Mirror,” and Mirror Burnham’s entire backstory was that she was plotting to assassinate Georgiou (with the help of several others, including Mirror Lorca).
Like Kirk, Georgiou was unable to keep her innate decency a secret for too long. When she returned to the “present,” the Guardian of Forever (another TOS reference) opted to send her time to a time and place where the Mirror and Prime Universes were still aligned. We have no idea what this means yet. And we probably won’t know until the Section 31 series starring Michelle Yeoh eventually materializes. (If it ever does!).
If you’re wondering whether or not Georgiou's actions in the past of the Mirror Universe created a branching timeline (a double Mirror Universe?), Discovery’s writers told Inverse that the answer is: probably not. “The best way to think of the version of the Mirror Universe we see in these episodes is as a special scenario created by the Guardian of Forever,” writers Bo Yeon Kim and Erika Lippoldt told Inverse last year. They added:
“Whether this new version of the Mirror Universe creates an alternate timeline, and an alternate Prime Universe to go with it. Or whether it’s a pocket timeline that exists independently or something else our human brains can’t even comprehend -- only Carl [the Guardian of Forever] can say...Or maybe he won't say!"
Will any of the new Trek shows return to the Mirror Universe? In the Discovery Season 2 finale, Captain Pike hinted he already knew about the Mirror Universe, though it was classified. If Strange New Worlds returns to the Mirror Universe, it’s unclear which version they will find. Star Trek: Picard Season 2 is also set to explore a parallel dimension of some kind, which means the Trek franchise is nowhere near done with branching timelines. In fact, it’s just getting started.
Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 hits Blu-ray on July 20, 2021.