Talk about a non-stop visual treat. Star Trek: Discovery’s season finale – part 2 of “Such Sweet Sorrow” offered so much to enjoy that I watched it again, then again. Three times I hit the play button for a show that has delivered an entertaining ride where very few have gone before. And on the whole, they did it very, very well.
Rather than a scene-by-scene dissection of the final movements for season 2, I”m going to kind of break it down a bit by emotion, then offer some bullet points about plot lines, characters and other aspects.
It’s important for me to remember that Star Trek, any Star Trek, is a fantasy, it’s entertainment, it doesn’t always have to make sense. That’s the beauty of it all – every single piece doesn’t have to fit smoothly, they simply have to entertain us, move the story along, and continue to give us characters and situations that engage and, dare I say it, embrace us as a fandom. I’ve noted before that Canon isn’t nearly as important to me as finding characters that draw me in and make me care about them. For my money, that’s what good writing and acting do. Fortunately, Star Trek: Discovery delivered that for me time and time again – the season finale included.
Worrying about how the Enterprise and Discovery could launch so many ships when the reality is they probably couldn’t house that many isn’t important. Lamenting the long goodbyes of some of the characters as all hell was breaking loose may not have made sense in a practical sense, Trying to figure out how Sarek and Amanda suddenly show up out of nowhere to say goodbye is irrelevant, but in a storytelling sense it helped things along and provided added depth to these characters we are drawn to.
No, it doesn’t have to always make sense, it has to tell us a story and thank God we have creators, writers and actors who have put so much into a compelling piece of the Star Trek legacy while standing in sets and CGI creations that are often breathtaking and invigorating. I can’t get caught up in the minute details that may seem overblown or downright unneeded.
There’s an old coaching axiom that I think applies here — don’t overthink it. Just let it happen. And with Star Trek: Discovery, that’s just the way you want to enjoy it. It’s the way I have viewed it from the start and have found that letting go of my disbelief has freed me to give myself to what’s in front of me.
And as you saw, what was in front of us all was a helluva fight between the Enterprise, Discovery and a slew of Section 31 ships and drones. The battled raged, a new Red Angel suit was constructed, the time crystal recharged (Jett Reno, you are awesome), Georgiou gets the drop on Leland and defeats him, and we see Burnham and the Discovery travel successfully into the time void the Red Angel suit created (950 years forward).
Where did they go and did they get their successfully? The latter question, it would seem, was answered later in the show when a seventh red signal appeared, the signal Burnham told Spock she would send if they were safe and successful.
I thought the two-episode season two capper was a wonderful idea, allowing for one long story arc that pushed the story ahead really nicely while adding plenty of opportunity for some loose threads to get tied up. In short, there was a nice buttoning of the season by the end. Of course how it plays out for season 3 should be very interesting given how it ended.
However, if you’re reading this, you more than likely have seen the episode. If not, I’m gonna deliver some bullet-point thoughts on some of what and who we witnessed as the season came to a close.
L’Rell and Ash: I admit that these two have grown on me and as a couple. I’ve loved L’Rell from the opening bell and nearly stood up when she uttered the immortal words, “Today is a good day to die” as the Klingons entered the fray towards the end. Mary Chieffo has been a revelation as this character and while we didn’t see much of her for large chunks of the seasons, her appearance is always a welcome sight.
Ash, of course, finished the episode by being appointed the interim director of Section 31. How can a guy who’s only been on the roster for what, six months, rise to the position? Who cares. Shazad Latif has really brought this character to life and while he no doubt will pine for the loss of Burnham, perhaps he and L’Rell can rekindle the lusty sparks of earlier? Or not. What’s important here is that we got to see both of these characters at their finest at the end.
Michael Burnham: Sonequa Martin-Green has been a steady, calm and lynchpin presence over the first two seasons of Star Trek: Discovery. She’s a complex woman who’s also got a decent amount of Vulcan aesthetic running around inside her. She’s also selfless to the nth degree and we see that again when she doesn’t hesitate to assume the Red Angel mantel to guide Discovery, and the sphere information, out of this timeline.
Some have quibbled that there was too much Spock-Michael time spent trying to “find the words” as what she was about to do became terrifyingly clear, but see above – it maybe made no sense, but it helped add layers and context to these characters. Martin-Green has infused Burnham with vibe that is unmistakable.
Culber-Stamets saga: First, let me get this out of the way – Wilson Cruz and Anthony Rapp have a tremendously convincing dynamic as Culber and Stamets. I think their work in these roles are so on-point and more than a bit painful at times. I thought it was a tremendous touch at the end when, skewered through his abdomen and bleeding like a stuck pig, Stamets looks up and sees Culber has not left the Discovery as he’d said he would. He was there, he was coming home, and he shared a tender moment with the man he re-realized he loved. In the midst of death, destruction and chaos, and amidst several tender moments, these two stood out. I applaud the humble humanness they display, along with a vulnerability that’s often missing from action-driven episodes. Well done, lads.
Anson Mount as Captain Pike: First, we owe Mount a huge debt of thanks (along with the writers and show runner) for adding to the narrative that is Christopher Pike. Mount’s Pike has pushed layer upon layer of great work on a character that was begging for it. Pike is a man of honor, good humor, an encouraging manager, an innovator, humanitarian, warrior and dedicated to the principles that he feels define him.
How can you not love a character that sees a grisly, horrific future for himself, yet chooses to continue to walk the path that’s ahead of him because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Again, that tenet is a part of Star Trek lore once again and Pike is the latest runner to carry that torch. I will miss Mount tremendously (he and No. 1 aren’t signed for next season), miss his touch with Pike. But he definitely can stand shoulder to shoulder with Kirk, PIcard, Janeway, Sisko and other captains in the Star Trek universe.
He was tough as nails during the final battle, willing his ship to deliver more power, more time, any possible advantage. I’m sure watching Admiral Cornwell sacrifice herself to save the ship was devastating. Again, needs of one versus needs of many.
Terran Georgiou: How can I say more about this character? I mean, I have adored Michelle Yeoh’s take on this magnificent creature from the outset. Honest to Zeus, it’s like watching a dominatrix prance through people’s lives dispensing not only hardcore lessons about reality, but also showing a little heart and compassion beneath the leather outfit.
She dominates every scene she’s in, shocks and awes those around her and generally behaves like someone who should be running everything…which, of course, she did at one time. Her throw down with Leland aboard the Discovery, and eventual neutralization of Control through Leland, was so sweetly brutal. She’s getting her ass kicked, bleeding all over the place, but let’s out a laugh in the midst of it all. She’s a delight and the thought not see her again has left me feeling a bit empty inside. Fortunately, I don’t think that’s going to be the case.
As The Grinch would say, “I’m leaking.” Yeoh has been splendid from the start and I have found Georgiou a character that has made me laugh out loud at her audacity and occasional overtly sexual stance (“Don’t be so binary. We could have some defcon level fun” — priceless). In the end, she won. And I expected nothing less.
Saru: I”ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Doug Jones (in conjunction with the writers, etc.) has pushed Saru so far down the road of character development in two seasons it’s hard to fathom. I can’t say enough about Jones as he gives depth to a character through prosthetics and makeup. What talent, what drive, what commitment. Absolutely tremendous work.
What’s really interesting is how Saru has not only changed, but was allowed to essentially change his home world in an earlier episode. That change came full circle when his sister showed up with a combined Kelpian/Ba’ul armada to help with the fighting. Just a well-done moment and a moment that summed up the monumental development and changes within Saru. Talk about a steady hand on the tiller moving ahead. Doug Jones, you are a treasure, sir.
Spock: I’m not a fan of him losing the beard, but there was something magical about beardless Spock walking back onto the bridge of the Enterprise to take his duty station. Ethan Peck’s Spock was something of a revelation for me. I think he’s delivered a performance worthy of Leonard Nimoy’s iconic look and feel, though modernized a bit for a 2019 audience. I was just impressed with Pecks work from start to finish. But I dug the beard, man.
All those others: One of the aspects of Star Trek: Discovery that I have really enjoyed is the increasingly ensemble nature of the show. I said above that the measure of a show is how invested we get in the characters. I can only speak to myself, but I find it hard to pick out a favorite character within the show — they all have moments that deliver some magic. From the bubbly intelligence of Tilly to Detmer, Owosekun, Rhys, Bryce, Miriam, Cornwell, Reno, Sarak, Leland, No. 1, and more all produced really exciting and story-helping moments throughout the season. I can’t laud the effort of all of these folks enough. Yes, the show is supposed to revolve around Michael Burnham to a large extent, but I find Star Trek: Discovery is a better offering when those on the periphery get their moments.
I would have loved more of Tig Notaro’s Reno and Rebecca Romijn’s Number 1. But when they’re on the screen, they do a lot of wonderful damage. There’s humor, intensity, problem-solving and more that these fine actors bring to the whole. Can’t wait to see who and who shows up in season 3.
For my money, Star Trek: Discovery has done a great job of fitting itself into as much Star Trek canon and lore as it has wanted to. Has it been perfect and clean? No, it hasn’t, but that’s not required. And, it shouldn’t be expected. What the show has been, however, is a visual treat with compelling characters and interesting stories – some of which feed into canon and some of which don’t. Again, I don’t get bogged down in what doesn’t work because in the end, it’s fantasy, it’s entertainment, it’s just fine as it is.
As an aside, I thought the post-battle interrogation scenes with the crew of the Enterprise covering up much of what had happened was really fun. And Number 1’s defiant, strong attitude was chuckle-inducing. She’s a pistol. Hope we get to see her again.
With the Discovery pulled some 950 years into the future, and Control seemingly neutralized, what might season 3 look like moving forward. Funny you should ask. Showrunner Alex Kurtzman said that by putting the show so far into the future, it opens up all sorts of possibilities – some to do with canon, some not. In essence, Discovery is traveling to the 33rd century, roughly 50 years before the Star Trek: Short Treks episode “Calypso.” That offers up plenty of opportunity for storytelling moving forward, something Kurtzman said he and his staff are excited to explore that.
And personally, I’m excited, too. Now that means we won’t see a lot of familiar characters such as Spock, Sarek, Harry Mudd and some others, but it’s likely we’re going to be exposed to others in the future. And, if you’ve taken note of anything I’ve written above, the chance to explore and learn about new characters is something I look forward to. Star Trek: Discovery has delivered much of what it promised initially and exceeded that promise more often then not. View it for what it is and what is delivers, judging for how well it delivers it, and enjoy a rejuvenated Star Trek world moving forward. I know I am.
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