(written from a Production point of view)
Burnham heads to the ISS Charon with a special "gift" for Emperor Georgiou. Back on-board the Discovery, Stamets gains clarity while trapped inside the mycelial network with his Terran counterpart and Saru asks for L'Rell's help to deal with Tyler.
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Heading for the ISS Charon twenty-seven million kilometers away, Michael Burnham and Captain Gabriel Lorca depart on SHNZ 03 from the ISS Shenzhou. The shuttlecraft travels at warp 1 after Burnham engages the autopilot shortly after departure to attend to Lorca, who is sitting restrained at the back of the craft. Before Burnham and Lorca departed the Discovery, Commander Saru managed to decrypt the data on the USS Defiant and the data was transferred to a PADD Burnham has carried on board the shuttle. However, much of the data is redacted. The decrypted data reveals that the Defiant crossed over to the parallel universe through interphasic space, but the location of the spatial anomaly was removed. Lorca suggests that Burnham should look for the information in the original file, which is likely to be found in the imperial palace on board the Charon. Burnham appears to be hesitant about the idea, but decides to remain silent.
She takes out a hypospray containing a custom analgesic she prepared following Lorca's request. Burnham administers the analgesic on Lorca to numb his nervous system so that he feels less pain if he is punished by agonizers.
Sensing Burnham's hesitation about finding the missing information about the Defiant on the Charon, Lorca assures Burnham of her ability. Unconvinced, Burnham returns to her pilot seat. She reveals her fear of confronting Philippa Georgiou, who she is unable to distinguish from the former captain she betrayed. Lorca reminds her that Philippa Georgiou of her universe has died and describes Georgiou as a mere ghost. Burnham counters Lorca by asking whether he has ever been afraid of ghosts.
The conversation is interrupted as the shuttlecraft computer informs Burnham that it has reached the Charon's security perimeter. The shuttlecraft disengages the warp drive and approaches the imperial palace, revealing the hull of the much-larger Charon.
Act One Edit
While still paralyzed, Lieutenant Paul Stamets' condition vastly improves after Cadet Sylvia Tilly began treating him with sporal therapy. In engineering, Tilly informs Saru excitedly about Stamets' improvement across all biological metrics, but Saru does not share her optimism: where the Defiant had entered the parallel universe remains unknown, and Stamets' condition is not improving quickly enough to assist the Discovery crew to return to their universe using the spore drive. Saru is then asked to report to the sickbay. Before leaving, Saru asks Tilly to take charge of curing Stamets.
Inside the mycelial network, Stamets encounters his counterpart native to the other universe. Not recognizing that he is inside the network, Stamets asks his counterpart if he is experiencing an afterlife. The other Stamets jokes about Stamets being wrong about the existence of a god and for that reason he is very angry. After being amused by Stamets' initial confusion, the other Stamets reveals their true location.
The pair introduce themselves and shake hands. Then in a white flash, they find themselves inside the USS Stamets, an illusory starship that the mycelial network created to resemble the Discovery to make Stamets feel more at home. While walking through the network-constructed corridors, the other Stamets explains that he is an astromycologist working on board the Charon. An accident with his research has trapped his neural energy inside the network, while his physical body is in a catatonic state. It is revealed that the images Stamets has been seeing while traveling on the mycelial network were attempts by the other Stamets to make contact, so that he could escape the network himself. While trying to locate the network's exit, the pair encounter a network corruption. Before the corruption could reach them, they escape to engineering, where they believe the exit to be located.
Meanwhile in the imperial palace, Emperor Georgiou receives Burnham and Lorca. Georgiou tells Burnham that she did not expect to see her alive. She invites Burnham to choose a Kelpien standing on the side of the court. The three Kelpiens turn and look at Burnham blankly while Burnham looks back at them with puzzled eyes. Georgiou senses Burnham's confusion and tells Burnham that she should know what to look for in a Kelpien. One of the Kelpiens tilts his head and makes a clicking sound. Burnham decides to choose him. The Kelpien is then escorted away. After the confusing affair, Burnham collects herself and presents Georgiou with the "gift" of Lorca. Lorca refuses to bow to Georgiou and is beaten with a scepter, following which he collapses on the floor. Georgiou orders Lorca to be placed in agonizers for the rest of his life. Lorca was carried away to brig C as per the orders of Captain Maddox. After the Kelpiens and Lorca are dismissed, Georgiou finally welcomes Burnham and expresses that she is happy Burnham has not died hunting for Lorca. She invites Burnham to dinner as she caresses Burnham's face and calls her "dear daughter".
Act Two Edit
Ash Tyler is resisting sedation in sickbay. The doctor is unsure how to treat him, and confirms the state of his personality. Focusing on Saru, he calms down enough to ask about her and to ask Saru to help him. He refuses.
While Lorca continues be tortured, Georgiou and Burnham share a meal prepared by the imperial chef. When Burnham tells Georgiou that the food is delicious, the emperor reveals that they have been eating Kelpien. Immediately disgusted, Burnham was fed a threat ganglia by Georgiou on a pair of chopsticks. Burnham reached her head forward and hesitantly allowed the ganglia to enter her mouth. She forced the ganglia down her throat. Burnham quickly learns that her counterpart in the mirror universe is adopted and given education by Georgiou. Georgiou confronts her on being soft and asks her why she hunted Lorca. When she doesn't get the reply she expected, she reveals she knew Burnham conspired with Lorca and takes a knife to her neck. Burnham then fails to call her "mother" as she usually did, which prompts Georgiou to sentence her to death.
In the mycelial network, Stamets shows his counterpart some data on his experiments with the spores, and shows him his arms. He then sees Culber and immediately goes after him, despite his counterpart's calls that it's an illusion.
Georgiou sentences Burnham in front of her captains. Burnham gives up the plan, admitting she is from another universe and giving proof from her uniform. Georgiou takes from her uniform her own counterpart's badge. Burnham continues to explain the other universe. Suddenly, Georgiou picks up a device and triggers it, immediately killing all but one of her captains and swearing the remaining one to secrecy.
Act Three Edit
Saru goes to L'Rell, gives her food and asks about Tyler. L'Rell is proud, saying that he has "awoken" and is a devoted warrior that will light the way to victory. Saru then explains where they are, that, there, the war is over and they are both in jeopardy. He's hoping to get some cooperation from her. She relents, explaining what they did to Ash Tyler and Voq, and that Voq accepted his suffering.
Stamets finds the network is modeling the Discovery for him. He pursues Culber and eventually reaches him in their quarters. The doors close and they talk. He confirms he's dead and not really in the network.
Burnham appeals to the Emperor to help them get back to their universe. Georgiou admits she knows about their universe through the logs of the USS Defiant, then denounces the Federation's ideals. She explains the crew of the Defiant went insane and killed each other. She wants to know how the Discovery made it to their universe, and they make a deal where Burnham gets help.
Saru shows L'Rell what Tyler is doing to himself and asks her to help him. She refuses and Saru then beams Tyler into the cell with her. She finally agrees, but only if it's her performing the operation.
Act Four Edit
Lorca is still being tortured when Maddox enters. Maddox proudly informs him they've rounded up all his loyalists. He then wants Lorca to admit what he did to Maddox' sister or else he'll kill another of his allies. He uses DNA of an exotic species to kill another man brought in.
L'Rell holds a device on Tyler's head, which eventually makes him calm down. He starts to describe his past in English, which makes her cry out as if he had died.
Stamets tells Culber he saw Tyler kill him. He then plays some music so his counterpart can't hear. They relive the memory of them at night telling each other about their day. Culber says Stamets was right about the network, but it's now in danger. He says Stamets' counterpart is corrupting the network, and Stamets must save it. Stamets is only partly interested, not wanting to say goodbye. He kisses Culber, and Culber tells him to "look for a clearing."
Stamets' counterpart then wakes up on the Charon while Stamets wakes up on the Discovery. He brings Tilly to the spore room, but it's too late.
Burnham calls Saru and has them come to the Charon. Georgiou then says she is reluctant to let Lorca go. Shockingly, she starts to argue that Lorca is actually the mirror-universe Lorca, noting his sensitivity to light. Burnham realizes she is right and has been impersonating him all along, needing Burnham to get to Georgiou.
Meanwhile, Lorca continues to refuse to comply with Maddox' request. He is able to get out of the booth and kills Maddox.
Memorable quotes Edit
"Lord Eling, can you keep a secret?"
"Good. Clean this up. Never speak a word of it to anyone, and I'll make you governor of Andor."
- - Eling and Emperor Georgiou, after she kills all her lords except him
"The food is delicious, as always."
"No one prepares Kelpien like the Imperial chef. Here, have my ganglia."
- - Burnham and Emperor Georgiou share a meal
"He needed me to get onto this ship; you wouldn't have let him on otherwise. […] He needed me to get to you. […] None of this was an accident. My so-called captain's not from my universe; he's from yours."
- - Burnham, telling Emperor Georgiou the horrible truth she has just realized about Captain Lorca.
Log entries Edit
Background information Edit
- After Trek "Episode 11" discusses the making of, and events in, this episode.
- The title is a reference to the line "I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent but only vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself and falls on the other" from Act 1, Scene 7 of William Shakespeare's Macbeth.
- This is the shortest live-action episode of any Star Trek series ever, clocking in at just under 38 minutes. It is the shortest episode since the final episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series aired in 1974.
- This episode revealed that the Gabriel Lorca seen thus far is actually a native of the mirror universe.
- Connected to this, this episode revealed that Humans and Terrans have only one biological difference: photosensitivity. In mirror universe episodes predating Discovery and following "Mirror, Mirror," Terran starships and habitats are noticeably darker than a Federation starship would be, and Jonathan Archer appeared to squint while in the captain's chair of the USS Defiant.
- This episode also established that a Human Ash Tyler existed prior to the genetic transformation of Voq to assume the form of Ash Tyler.
- The technique of using the series' regular shipboard interiors to manifest a character's inner mental world in a comatose or altered state has been used several times in the franchise before, often complete with hallucinations of regular characters representing different themes or states of mind, most notably in TNG: "Remember Me", "Birthright, Part I", "Dark Page", DS9: "Distant Voices", "Extreme Measures", and VOY: "Barge of the Dead".
- The classified file on the USS Defiant referenced events seen in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "In a Mirror, Darkly". The stardate mentioned in the report, 0141.7, is the earliest stardate known to date.
- It is revealed that millennia ago, Terrans believed in equality, freedom and cooperation but shed them. As of the 2250s, they believe these ideals are destructive delusions that breed rebellions.
- This is the first episode of the series in which neither Keyla Detmer nor her mirror universe counterpart appear.
- The use of parasitic lifeforms for punishment or other evil ends also figures into Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek.
Production history Edit
Links and references Edit
- Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham
- Doug Jones as Saru
- Shazad Latif as Ash Tyler
- Anthony Rapp as Paul Stamets / Paul Stamets (mirror)
- Mary Wiseman as Sylvia Tilly
Special guest star Edit
Guest starring Edit
- Sam Asante as Senior Guard
- Jeremy Crittenden as Lord Eling
- Raven Dauda as Dr. Pollard
- Billy MacLellan as Barlow
- Dwain Murphy as Captain Maddox
- Tasia Valenza as Shenzhou Computer
- Marie Ward as Junior Guard
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- Marcello Bezina as Lord
- Bobby Brown as Lord
- Dana Jones as Lord
- Marco Perretta as USS Discovery medical crewman
- Clayton Scott as Chosen Kelpien slave
- Chris Obi as T'Kuvma (archive footage)
- Unknown actors as:
Stunt double Edit
Andor; Archer, Jonathan; Armillaria ostoyae; Ava; beta waves; Buran, ISS; clearing; Charon, ISS; coma; Comtaxan parasite; Defiant, USS; dew; Dominus of Qo'noS; ganglia; glucose; Harlak; highway; infra-low waves; Enterprise, ISS; interphase; imperial chef; Mother of the Fatherland; NCC; Overlord of Vulcan; palace; Qo'noS; Regina Andor; San Francisco Fleet Yards; SHNZ 03; Stamets, USS; stardate; Tholian; Tholian asteroid dock; Tonnata VII; Tyler, Ash; Virgil; Vulcan; warship
- "Vaulting Ambition" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- Vaulting Ambition at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Discovering Mirror History" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
|Mirror universe-related episodes|
|ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly" • "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II"|
|DIS: "Into the Forest I Go" • "Despite Yourself" • "The Wolf Inside" • "Vaulting Ambition" • "What's Past Is Prologue"|
|TOS: "Mirror, Mirror" • "The Tholian Web"|
|DS9: "Crossover" • "Through the Looking Glass" • "Shattered Mirror" • "Resurrection" • "The Emperor's New Cloak"|
| Previous episode:|
"The Wolf Inside"
| Star Trek: Discovery|
| Next episode:|
"What's Past Is Prologue"