These are the voyages…
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And that’s a wrap on Star Trek: Discovery Season 1, which goes out on a kind of weird note that elicits both disappointment and excitement. The disappointment comes from the rushed and somewhat tough-to-buy resolution of the Klingon war, while the excitement is the result of the final moments of the episode as the USS Enterprise herself showed up, seemingly setting up Season 2!
Let’s talk about Captain Pike and the Enterprise in a bit. But first, Burnham and the Discovery crew find themselves in quite a difficult situation following Admiral Cornwell and Sarek’s decision to give the ship over to Mirror Georgiou. That’s some grade-A Star Trek admiral dumbness going on there, following in the grand tradition of idiotic moves by Starfleet Command going back to The Original Series. Burnham realizes that there’s got to be more to their plan than she’s been filled in on, and the crux of the episode comes down to her figuring it all out and saving the Federation from itself along the way.
The adventure takes Burnham, Tyler, Tilly and Georgiou for a surely expensive trip to the Klingon homeworld that surprisingly spends more time on the famously sexy (and green) Orion slaves from the old show, which feels kind of like a CBS note to make the episode “more Game of Thronesy.”
There’s a nice symmetry to Burnham and Voq/Tyler’s journeys between the pilot episode and this finale, with Michael once again staging a sort of mutiny, only this time doing so for all the right reasons and with the support of her friends too. Voq/Tyler, meanwhile, ultimately does prove to be the Torchbearer he pledged himself as in the pilot, although it turns out it’s for the one Klingon no one saw coming: L’Rell. It’s a great turn of events for actress Mary Chieffo, whose L’Rell has always been there with her pulse on the Klingon situation, but never truly sought leadership herself. We’ll see where this all leads next season — hopefully Tyler and L’Rell will return in some capacity — but for now I’m going to head-canon it that L’Rell becomes the leader of the Klingon High Council and continues to be by the time of Kirk’s era.
Unfortunately, the episode — directed by executive producer Akiva Goldsman, who also shares a story credit with scripters and showrunners Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts — asks us to buy into the idea that L’Rell would just go ahead with Burnham’s plan and call off the invasion of Earth once she had that iPad remote control thingee for Georgiou’s doomsday device. L’Rell herself had just said last week that the Klingons wouldn’t stop fighting until they were defeated, so why wouldn’t she just take control of her homeworld and wipe out humankind all in one fell swoop?
The result is an episode that handles its character moments very well but feels anticlimactic in terms of the biggest plot arc of the season. This is how the Klingon war ends? Yes, it’s a cool twist, and very Star Trek, to avoid a big battle and sort things out with words. But at the same time, the manner in which this is achieved is hard to swallow. Ditto the awards ceremony, which feels more Star Wars than Star Trek, and which Goldsman edits in an eclectic style that chops up Burnham’s big speech with cuts to the main crewmembers getting medals from Cornwell. It’s an odd choice that distracts in the moment, just like the episode’s overly showy visual effects shots of the camera approaching Earth and Qo’noS.
As for Burnham, she’s finally, officially science officer of Discovery. The character was of course destined for redemption, but now that she’s achieved that, it does make one wonder what her journey will be next season. That said, I’m glad that the show didn’t take the easy way out and just have her and Tyler get back together; no doubt we’ll see Shazad Latif again, but for now this was the most honest approach to both characters. It is a shame, though, that they (presumably) won’t be sharing scenes on a regular basis anymore like their final one here, which is quite effective.
Of course, it looks like Burnham will be dealing with other issues in the immediate future anyway. The big cliffhanger (we knew the season had to end on some kind of hook) sees the Enterprise and Captain Pike apparently in need of the Discovery’s help. In a goosebumps-inducing final few seconds, the (redesigned for Discovery’s sensibilities) Enterprise appears and then the episode ends while the classic TOS music plays over the closing credits. What does this mean? Spock, of course, should be on that ship, and Burnham’s family has been a very important part of this show’s fabric so far. It makes a lot of sense to bring him in next. But otherwise it’s an entirely different crew onboard that ship in this era rather than the classic Kirk-era Enterprise that we think of, and therefore they’re all easily recast. It’s both surprising and exciting that the Discovery team has chosen to go to the Enterprise so soon in the show’s run. And I’m down with it!
Questions and Notes from the Q Continuum:
- Mirror Georgiou’s brief turn in the command chair is hilarious as she replies to every situation in the complete opposite way the real Georgiou would.
- Mary Wiseman continues to kill it as Tilly, and she’s a ton of fun in this episode, particularly when she gets to meet Trek vet himself Clint Howard!
- Howard isn’t the only Trek Easter Egg here, with references to Ceti eels, “Bread and Circuses,” Mintaka III, and more filling this episode.
- Wow, that jump inside Qo’noS combined with the gang beaming to the surface right before the commercial break was pretty dramatic and cool.
- Stamets doesn’t get much to do here, but it sure seems as though Starfleet is tabling the spore drive for good. (Also, Hugh got a medal!)
- It was pretty great to see Tyler embrace his inner Voq on the Klingon homeworld, and fit in really well doing it!
- Does Spock get yet another actor to play him next year? Pike too, obviously.
- What do you guys think of the new look of the Enterprise? I’ve basically rationalized away any nerdy concerns about the redesigns at this point as this just being the Discovery team’s interpretation of the Trek universe. It’s like different artists using different brushes.
- We don’t know when Disco Season 2 returns, but the show is being written right now with a production start expected in April.