The following analysis has spoilers (and potential spoilers) for Discovery season three.
Episode 305 of Star Trek: Discovery (“Die Trying”) featured Michelle Yeoh’s Georgiou being interrogated by the mysterious 32nd-century character Kovich, played by David Cronenberg, spawning several theories. It seemed the interrogation did something to the former Terran Emperor, and in episode 306 we saw her suffer some debilitating blackouts and visions. This storyline was not picked up on last week’s episode 307, but the previews for this week’s episode (“The Sanctuary”) hint that Georgiou is going to get examined by Dr. Culber.
Before the good doctor can examine Georgiou, it’s worth taking a look at those traumatic visions Georgiou suffered in episode 306 (“Scavengers”). There is a clue in there that could tell us where this story is headed.
The emperor flashed back to the Mirror Universe
There were actually two different vision/blackout scenes for Georgiou in “Scavengers,” and taken together they start to shape a picture. Importantly, both featured several moments from the four-episode Mirror Universe arc in season one of Star Trek: Discovery.
These moments within the flashbacks appear to be there to establish that the visions that Georgiou is suffering are from the Mirror Universe, and more significantly are from her past.
The flashback is about someone who died
Interspersed throughout both of the flashback scenes were glimpses of something new, all of which appear to be a painful moment in the Emperor’s past. We see brief moments of a younger-looking Georgiou fussing over the body of a bleeding figure in a specialized suit.
To emphasize that is from the Mirror Universe, the suit has some subtle Terran Empire stitching, and nearby is a bloody Terran knife.
That someone is “San”
The identity of the stabbed figure is obscured by a mask.
However, we do get a name. We can see Georgiou call out to “San” in both flashbacks from “Scavengers.”
San is from a book
This is the first reference on Star Trek: Discovery of anyone named San. However, there is a character named San associated with Georgiou: San was mentioned briefly a couple of times in John Jackson Miller’s Star Trek: Discovery novel Die Standing. Released last July, Die Standing is set between seasons one and two of Discovery and tells the story of how Georgiou got her start in Section 31.
In the novel, Georgiou has a dream of a younger time and someone named San…
That dream eventually turns dark before she awakens, but it was also clarified that San was male. So from that, we learned a young Phillipa was very close with this San. And he came up again briefly later in the book when Georgiou is being implored to find new friends in the new universe she finds herself.
This last passage indicates that losing her beloved friend San was a pivotal moment in Georgiou’s life. It is implied that the loss of San turned her colder and taught her not to get close to people.
It may also be noteworthy that Georgiou’s interrogation with Kovich was in an episode titled “Die Trying,” which is not that far off from the book title “Die Standing.”
Kovich brought this memory back for a reason
There is no indication from the book that this memory of San was repressed; it was just part of her past, so the flashbacks seen in season three of Discovery should not be a revelation to Georgiou. San is an important person from her past and apparently part of the foundation of her character. Yet after her rigorous interrogation with the mysterious Kovich, this memory of San’s death—something she has lived with for a long time—is becoming debilitating.
During Georgiou’s interrogation, Kovich and his pair of holograms indicated they had an advanced understanding of Terrans. We already know there are differences between Terrans and humans from Earth in the Prime Universe but by the 32nd century, they had an understanding of these on a deeper level. One hologram says “all Terrans are duplicitous by their biology,” and the other says “we have discovered a chimeric strain on the subatomic level in the Terran stem cell.” Kovich also revealed he knew quite a bit about Georgiou herself, shown when he brought up her motivation to stay with the USS Discovery due to her closeness to someone on the crew, obviously Michael.
Theory 1: Kovich gave Georgiou a conscience
One of our favorite theories about Kovich is that he is recruiting Georgiou for a 32nd-century version of Section 31, either to join or possibly help reconstitute it. However, one of the issues they may have is her ruthless past and arguably evil nature. They point out that she is “a murderer in at least two universes.” And when working with Section 31 in the 23rd century, Georgiou never seemed all that loyal to the organization, Starfleet or the Federation. And from a production standpoint, we know that there are plans to give Michelle Yeoh her own Section 31-focused show at some point.
So, perhaps Kovich and his team have taken their knowledge of Terran biology and Georgiou’s past and found a way to give her an upgrade of sorts, just like Starfleet did for the refit USS Discovery. Instead of detached nacelles, Georgiou could have been given a conscience. They found a way to tap into that pivot point in her past when she turned cold and flip that switch, allowing her to make more connections beyond just Michael Burnham. What we are seeing with Georgiou could be some side effects of the process, or possibly even her rejecting the process for now.
A darker version of this could have a 32nd-century version of Section 31 altering the Emperor’s memories. Maybe they changed who was responsible for San’s death. If Georgiou believed Mirror Michael Burnham was responsible, maybe that could sever her loyalty to Michael Prime, and make her more amenable to recruitment.
Theory 2: Georgiou is being used to access the Mirror Universe
In The Ready Room‘s exclusive clip for the upcoming episode “The Sanctuary,” Dr. Culber and Georgiou are discussing what’s happening to her, and Culber suggests that if she doesn’t want help, she can find out on her own if her condition is “physiological, psychological, temporal, or interdimensional.” And the trailer for “The Sanctuary” shows Georgiou being examined, with something very strange happening to her. Her face is severely distorted, with an effect that looks somewhat like 32nd-century programmable matter.
These clues indicate that whatever’s happening to Georgiou is more than psychological, and might very well be temporal or interdimensional. If it is interdimensional, it could be possible that Kovich is looking for a way to access the Mirror Universe. He made a point of telling Georgiou that it had been 500 years since anyone crossed over, so perhaps he did something to her to help access that universe once more. It’s possible he sees the MU as a potential source of dilithium, assuming The Burn only happened in the Prime Universe.
Why all of this is anchored in a specific memory of San remains to be seen.
UPDATE: Kovich diagnoses Georgiou
Episode 308 and a preview for 309 have added some more clues. Check out our updated analysis.
What do you think?
Are you as curious about Kovich as we are? Do you think he is just some guy interested in the Mirror Universe? Do you buy into any of our possible theories, or do you have your own? And what do you think is going on with Georgiou? Sound off in the comments below.
New episodes of Star Trek: Discovery premiere on Thursdays on CBS All Access in the U.S. and on CTV Sci-Fi Channel in Canada, where it’s also available to stream on Crave. Episodes are available on Fridays internationally on Netflix.
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