Star Trek: Discovery memorably pulled off a shocking twist in its first season, with the U.S.S Discovery’s captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs) turning out to be an evil doppelganger from the Mirror Universe. Things got complicated in the latter episodes of the run, but ultimately Lorca ended up dead and the Mirror Georgiou remained in the Prime Universe – ahead of her own spinoff show.
As fans of the series will know, though, season 1 changed a lot over the course of production due to co-creator Bryan Fuller leaving the project. It turns out the re-introducution of the Mirror Universe was one of his concepts, but he originally intended to use it to explore a bold, nuanced theme.
Here’s what Fuller told Robert Meyer in a recent episode of his Robservations YouTube show.
“The thing that really fascinated me in sitting down and crafting the story for Discovery was the human condition. I thought that there are elements in the Mirror Universe that we have seen that have sort of boiled to the broadest ends of the spectrum and everything felt really binary. And what I really wanted to do in setting out was looking at the minutiae of simple decisions that have a cascade effect on our lives. So, it’s not about gold lamé sashes and goatees versus no sash and clean-shaven. It is more about we are at forks in the road every moment of our lives and we either go left or right.”
Fuller then harked back to a memorable moment in Voyager which really tapped into what he wanted to explore in Discovery.
“It makes me think of Joe Menosky’s speech in [VOY ‘Latent Image’], where The Doctor has a Sophie’s choice, he can only save one life. And he chose Ensign Harry Kim versus this other ensign and it is a split-decision and it causes his entire program to unravel because he can’t handle how his choice was always going to cost a life. It was his Kobayashi Maru.”
Ultimately, Fuller’s plan was to kind of take the Sliding Doors approach to the concept of parallel universes and explore the enormous repercussions a tiny decision can have.
“So, there was something in the mistakes made by Burnham in ‘Battle of the Binary Stars’ that had this ripple, but the Mirror Universe was always meant to be an exploration of a small step in a different direction. So, it wasn’t necessarily the Mirror Universe we know from all of the other series. It was something that was closer to our timeline and experience, so you can still recognize the human being and go, ‘What did I do? How did that seem like a good decision for me in that moment and how do I continue with my life forward?’ And everything was a sort of an extrapolation out on that. So, there were things that I wanted the Mirror Universe to function in a narrative exploration of like ‘Oh f***, if I just didn’t do that one thing, everything would be better.’ As opposed to, ‘I don’t recognize that person, I don’t know who that person is, because they are a diametric opposite of who I am.’ So, that is kind of what the goal was.”
Someone could probably write a book on the production upheaval of the early days of Discovery. After Fuller left over creative differences, Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts took over for the remainder of season 1. However, they were fired early into season 2 due to going wildly over budget and for alleged abusive behavior towards the writers’ room. Alex Kurtzman has remained in charge ever since, with Michelle Paradise joining him for season 3.
Star Trek: Discovery is due to return to CBS All Access for its aforementioned third season later this year.