‘Star Trek: Discovery’: What the Captain Lorca Revelation Means for the Crew

Lauren Gallaway
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SPOILER ALERT: This post contains spoilers from Star Trek: Discovery episode “Vaulted Ambition.” Proceed with caution.

The newest episode of Star Trek: Discovery took fans further into the rabbit hole of the Mirror Universe where the Terran Empire rules. Burnham came face to face with the alternate version of her deceased former captain, Philippa Georgiou.

Stamets awoke from his coma and Tyler’s Klingon personality asserted itself. The biggest revelation, however, was that Gabriel Lorca, the captain of the U.S.S. Discovery, is actually his Terran Empire version. Georgiou made the realization after Burnham told her she was from a different reality. While the Tyler-is-Voq reveal was devastating, this was even worse, because it likely means Starfleet’s Captain Lorca is probably dead. How will the Lorca revelation play out the remaining episodes of Star Trek: Discovery’s first season? Let’s jump in.

Through the Looking Glass

Star Trek Discovery

During this week’s episode, “Vaulted Ambition,” Burnham revealed to Georgiou that she was actually from an alternate universe. You think this would have surprised Georgiou, but somehow she knew that the Burnham addressing her wasn’t her daughter. Georgiou was aware of the prime Starfleet universe because she had studied the files of the U.S.S. Defiant, which had gotten trapped in the Mirror Universe before Discovery. Georgiou also knew that Burnham’s Lorca was not Starfleet Lorca. Georgiou assumed that her Burnham was dead and the Terran Empire Lorca went to another universe to find a new Burnham. This theory was confirmed when Georgiou explained her eye’s sensitivity to light. Lorca has that same sensitivity. So, the Lorca we’ve seen over the last episodes has really been the Terran Empire Lorca. That explains why so much about his character that never felt quite like Starfleet!

Not Starfleet


When Burnham first met Captain Lorca in Episode 3, “Context is for Kings“, she was told that Lorca was the sole survivor of a Klingon attack. His ship, the USS Buran, was destroyed and all of his crew had died, save him. Lorca’s attitude in the early episodes was rough, curt, even warmongering. His persona was not like the Starfleet captains of past Star Trek shows. He was neither diplomatic, like Picard, or full of joy and zeal, like Sisko. He was obsessed with the spore drive, a collector of weapons, and was determined to win the war against the Klingons. His behavior now makes total sense, considering he was Lorca from the Terran Empire.

So what’s his end game here? We know that at some point in the Mirror Universe, Lorca and Burnham went rogue. Georgiou believed they were going to betray her. After their disappearance, Lorca somehow made it from the Mirror Universe into the prime timeline, but the question remains how? Was it the spores from his universe? Is that how he knew to study them in the first place? Somehow he discovered that Starfleet’s Lorca had died on the Buran and pretended to be the sole survivor. Then he found out that the science ship Discovery had an active spore drive and somehow jockeyed for the role of Captain. He must have also found out that Burnham, the woman he presumably lost and loved was alive in this timeline and being held prisoner, so he arranged for her transfer and the rest is history.

Was Lorca using the spore drive all this time to make it back to the Mirror Universe? Now that he’s there, does he want to kill Georgiou and rule the Terran Empire with Burnham by his side? Burnham is not going to be okay with that plan at all. We still don’t know what his total end game is, but I’m sure we’ll find out during the next episode, “What’s Past is Prologue.”

Star Trek: Discovery airs Sundays at 5:30PST/8:30EST on CBS All Access and globally on Netflix the following day.

Lauren Gallaway
TV editor at FANDOM. Creator of The Marvel Report. Journalist, Comic-Con reporter, Podcaster.
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