What the Hell is Up With Lorca? A ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Mystery


Lorca Lorca Lorca.



To pay lip service to brevity, here is a summary of what we’re going to cover today:

  • Gabriel Lorca is a complete fucking toerag.
  • Y’know who else is a complete fucking toerag? Everybody in the Mirror Universe.
  • Lorca’s old ship was the Buran, named for the old Russian space shuttle that never launched.
  • Lorca’s new ship is the Discovery, named for the old American space shuttle that launched several times.
  • Is it possible that the Buran was conducting transdimensional travel experiments similar in principle to the Discovery?
  • If so, is it possible that Lorca, or indeed the whole Buran, swapped universes, just as the Discovery did?
  • And is it therefore possible that Evil Lorca subsequently destroyed the ship to conceal his identity?

Find out answers to all of that and more, by reading on! Or don’t, I don’t fucking know, I’m guessing at this as much as the writers are.


Broken Soul or Arsehole?

There’s an argument to be made that Lorca is suffering from PTSD, or at least a condition with symptoms similar to PTSD. I’m no psychologist, so I won’t delve into this too much, I am happy to acknowledge it as a possibility and let someone more qualified than me review and rate that possibility.

Certainly, following a traumatic wartime event in which Lorca was forced to murder all of his crew, and suffer a debilitating injury, the possibility of him developing PTSD is a reasonable one. And this would explain things like his paranoia (keeping a phaser in his bed) and his emotional issues, although it’s notable that he does not seem to suffer avoidance – indeed, he willingly and frequently places himself and his crew in battle situations.

The PTSD angle doesn’t explain his apparent malignance, or his willingness to manipulate and emotionally abuse others to achieve his goals. As I understand it, PTSD can make a person’s behaviour more problematic than it otherwise would be in certain situations, but it doesn’t turn them into a bad person. Again, though, I’m not a mental health professional, so please don’t take these statements as medically sound.

But, if Lorca was actually his own Mirror Counterpart, we can see a stronger pattern:

  • Mirror Captain Tilly won her position by stabbing her captain whilst he was recovering in bed. Lorca sleeps with a phaser.
  • The next time we see Lorca with a phaser, he’s staring at his own reflection:


  • The Terran Empire operates under coercion and fear. Lorca’s only demonstrable leadership techniques so far are berating, bullying and emotional manipulation.
  • Right before overriding Discovery‘s jump co-ordinates, Lorca delcares “Let’s go home.” This is a few hours after explaining to Stamets the concept of parallel universes and the possibility of accessing them via the Spore Drive.
  • “No matter how deep in space you are, I always feel like you can see home,” is Lorca’s first ever line, again on the subject of home, and delivered as he is staring at his own reflection:


  • Lorca’s line in Episode Ten “There’s me hoping I’d find a better version of myself here,” in response to finding out that his Mirror Counterpart is dead.
  • Lives in the Terran Empire are entirely disposable, with assassination being the most common path to promotion. Lorca intentionally interferes with Discovery‘s jump coordinates, not knowing what it might do to the already unwell Stamets.
    • He also abandons Cornwell to likely ambush (and later refuses to try to rescue her) when she confirms that she’s going to report his unsuitability for command.
  • There’s also all the stuff that’s already been covered way back before Episode Seven.

The Theory

Alright, here’s the theory:

  1. Lorca and Mirror Lorca were respective captains of the U.S.S. Buran and the I.S.S. Buran, respectively.
  2. Both vessels were trialing experimental drives or transporters when there was some kind of accident. (Or, Klingons attacked causing something strange to happen, possibly linked to experimental tech).
  3. EITHER:
    1. Only Lorca himself swapped realities, and Mirror Lorca found himself in Prime Universe, on the U.S.S. Buran, and scuttled her and killed all her crew to protect his identity.
    2. The entire Buran swapped realities, and Mirror Lorca destroyed his own ship and all his crew because he realised they would never all be able to successfully remain incognito – this would be a one-man job.
    3. The Buran was destroyed in the accident, and Mirror Lorca miraculously survived in the Prime Universe.
  4. THEN Mirror Lorca manages to con his way into captaining this new, experimental ship he’s heard about that can transcend space and time with it’s incredible drive system. OR the fact that Lorca and the Buran were involved in the project to begin with game him the leverage to get the assignment.
  5. It also gave him leverage to pick his own crew – Tilly, who he knew to be the Mirror Discovery‘s captain. Saru, who he knew to be Mirror Burnham’s slave. Detmer, who he knew to be Burnham’s first or second officer, and so on.
  6. Mirror Lorca uses the Discovery to both chart the Mycelial Network, and win enough victories to keep him in command until he can collect enough data to chart a way home. (“Apparently, the 133 jumps we made filled in the gaps.”)
I’d be lying if I said this article was anything more than an excuse to post lots and lots of pictures of Jason Isaacs.

The matter of the attempted assassination on the Terran Emperor Georgiou is up for discussion. Either it was a ploy by the ambitious Mirror Lorca to seize power for himself, and the destruction of the Buran led to the reality-swapping accident, or it was a ploy by the Prime Lorca who was trying to oust an evil tyrant and shine a bit of Utopia on Shadesville.

Either way, it seems more and more compelling that Lorca is in fact Mirror Lorca, and that he’s been up to no good all along. Which seems strange, given that we’ve already got one Wolf-in-Sheep’s-Clothing plot with Ash Tyler the Human. This is another, related story thread, which just seems weird and out of place.

The alternative is that this will be some kind of redemption arc for Lorca, who will see the evil around him, have a light cast on his own decisions and subsequently sacrifice himself for the crew of the Prime Discovery, thereby undoing all of the terrible things he had already done and making him a good guy all along.

Because that’s how it works.

Shit, I promised you answers.




Lorca is from a Mirror Universe, but he’s actually from the Mirror Universe where Watermelon-flavoured Calippos exist (everybody knows that watermelon-flavoured things are the best flavour of things). Now, he’s on a mission to return to some other universe where he can get a whole freezer full of Watermelon Calippos and spend the rest of his days in fat-free bliss.

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