Star Trek: Discovery has only had one season of television yet the starship has already had no less than three captains. But only Saru truly deserves the captain’s chair.
It’s not unusual for the captains of Star Trek to occasionally lose command of their vessels. For instance, in The Original Series, an insane Commodore Matt Decker assumed control of the Enterprise from James Kirk in the episode “The Doomsday Machine”. In The Next Generation two-parter “Chain of Command”, Captain Edward Jellico took command of the Enterprise-D when Jean-Luc Picard was captured by the Cardassians. Even Captain Benjamin Sisko stepped away from the top spot of Deep Space Nine at the height of the Dominion War, leaving the station in the hands of Colonel Kira Nerys. However, these were always temporary situations with the captains quickly resuming their authority.
On Discovery, the privilege to sit in her captain’s chair has turned into an increasingly bizarre game of musical chairs. When disgraced mutineer Michael Burnham first found herself on board the U.S.S. Discovery, her captain was Gabriel Lorca. Despite his ruthless behavior setting off fan theories that Lorca is really the enemy, he nevertheless proved to be an effective commander of the most advanced starship in the Federation. By the time the Discovery found itself trapped in the Mirror Universe in the second half of the season, however, everything was thrown asunder as Lorca revealed his true identity, only to be replaced by another outright fake as captain.
Never before in Star Trek history have two imposters from an alternate universe taken turns occupying the top seat of a Federation starship. This doesn’t even include Cadet Sylvia Tilly posing as her Mirror counterpart, who is captain of the Mirror Discovery, or Admiral Katrina Cornwell assuming command of the vessel.
Here’s how Discovery found itself in this captain’s mess and why the answer to this dilemma is standing right there on the bridge all along…
This Page: Lorca Was Never The True Captain
Lorca Was Never The True Captain Of The Discovery
Gabriel Lorca boasted an impressive battle record against the enemy in the Klingon War. Under his watch, the Discovery perfected the revolutionary spore displacement hub drive invented by Lieutenant Paul Stamets. Gifted with the ability to instantaneously jump anywhere in the known universe, the Discovery became Starfleet’s greatest weapon against the Klingons. Lorca masterminded multiple victories over the fearsome warrior race, including a decisive win on Pahvo where Discovery not only destroyed the Klingon Ship of the Dead but engineered a way for Starfleet to break through the Klingons’ cloaking technology. Under any other circumstances, Lorca would have to be considered one of Starfleet’s most legendary captains. Except for one thing: he is a complete and total fraud.
The fact is the man posing as Captain Gabriel Lorca was an opportunistic psychopath from the Mirror Universe. A transporter accident on board the U.S.S. Buran switched the Prime Lorca with his opposite. After finding himself in command of a starship in the Prime Universe, Lorca soon destroyed the Buran and all of the souls aboard her, blaming it on the Klingons. (Jason Isaacs explained that the planned backstory was the Buran’s computers discovered Lorca wasn’t the real captain, so the Mirror avoided being exposed by self-destructing the ship.) A truly gifted deceiver, Lorca cheated through his Starfleet psych evaluations and, likely thanks to the leniency of an unwitting Admiral Cornwell (who had a past relationship with Prime Lorca), the doppelganger talked his way into the captain’s chair of the U.S.S. Discovery by promising to be the man to win the Klingon War.
While Lorca’s results are indeed impressive, he is nevertheless a fake who did not belong in the Prime universe, much less in command of Starfleet’s most advanced ship. His demands and impatience for Stamets to perfect the spore drive was mainly so he could fulfill his real objective: to use the Discovery to return to the Mirror Universe and overthrow Emperor Georgiou. It’s true Starfleet benefitted from his keen tactical mind despite his insubordination and the risks Lorca willingly took. His superiors also couldn’t have guessed Lorca hailed from a parallel universe. Still, despite his notable successes, Lorca commanding the Discovery for as long as he did is a black eye to Starfleet. The man was an imposter and a disgrace. Incredibly, Admiral Cornwell’s choice to replace Lorca is an even bigger disgrace.
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