(written from a Production point of view)
This page contains information regarding I AM ERROR, and thus may contain spoilers.
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 Shenzhou 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.
While still paralyzed, Lieutenant Paul Stamets' condition has vastly improved 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: it is remains unknown where the Defiant had entered the parallel universe and Stamets' condition is not improving quickly enough to assist the Discovery crew in returning 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 she 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 Kelpians 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".
"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
- 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, it is revealed that there is a singular biological difference between Humans and Terrans: 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 there was a Human Ash Tyler prior to the genetic transformation of Voq to assume the form of Ash Tyler.
- The technique of using the series' regular shipboard interiors as the manifestation of a character's inner mental world, while 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.
Links and references
- 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
- 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
- Marcello Bezina as Lord
- Bobby Brown as Lord
- Dana Jones as Lord
- Marco Perretta as USS Discovery medical crewman
- Clayton Scott as Kelpien
- Chris Obi as T'Kuvma (archive footage)
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; Qo'noS; Regina Andor; San Francisco Fleet Yards; Shenzhou 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"