Star Trek #1485: Such Sweet Sorrow Part 2

CAPTAIN'S LOG: Control versus Discovery and all its friends, and this one's for all the marbles.

WHY WE LIKE IT: A big finale. Burnham's final advice.

WHY WE DON'T: Throws the baby out with the bath water.

Discovery's Season 2 finale has two big problems. The first is that it tries to bring back almost everything that's gone on in the season back into play, and I don't think it all fits together very well. Yes, plenty of eye candy, a veritable dance of starships and small fighters (rare in Trek, to the point of breaking the canon) and desperate action both inside and outside the ships. Yes. But they over-egg the pudding somewhat, making things TOO desperate for no good reason. For example, we spent a lot of time on goodbyes in the previous episode, and now the crew is replicating the time suit at the very last minute? Similarly, there are loads of countdowns (bomb detonations, Leland left alone in a key part of the ship - where he does nothing of value, mind - Discovery really needing to get the hell out of there), but we take breaks for speeches that take just a little too long given the circumstances. When the cavalry arrives, you wonder just how quickly they made it there given how little time our heroes had to get ready. Ash managed to reach L'Rell and come back? And worse, Saru's sister piloting a Ba'ul fighter? Just what happened on Kaminar? Doesn't sound like it was good for the Ba'ul. So many questions, just no time to answer them.

In the breakneck pace of the episode, a lot of details are lost. Is it a good idea for Pike to give the Klingons specs to Starfleet's most advanced ships? It's not a question that crossed the writers' minds. Why does Number One have difficulty understanding Detmer's navigational jargon? Doesn't sound like her. Why is it a good idea to send a counselor to disarm a torpedo? Other than the show has no use for Admiral Cornwell anymore, I mean. Why would Georgiou entertain the idea of luring Leland to Discovery where Control could have many ways of secreting a copy of itself aboard? With all the callbacks, I thought for sure the mushroom aliens would fall on Control, mite-like, and eat him in the chamber. But no, just a magnetic trick (as per Through the Valley of Shadows), one of the few paceless moments in the episode. I also wonder if Georgiou engineered Leland's infiltration of the ship so she could get her revenge, but there's no moment where she shows her hand. Speaking of which, he arrives on the bridge firing, just like in Burnham's vision, but what, is his rifle on stun? Everybody gets back up and they're fine. Po's solution to the technobabble problem presented by Control's drones doesn't really register visually, so I don't know what that's doing there except to keep the Queen from leaving with Discovery after all. Hugh also doesn't leave, but you kind of get that as soon as Stamets is severely wounded. I even call shenanigans with the cool shifting-gravity fight, or rather, the moment just before where two female crew members are sucked out into space... It looks like it's Georgiou and Nahn, but the way it's directed, the show doesn't seem to know the two women's survival is meant to be a reveal. And more central to this whole plot is Burnham sending the seven signals, and while that's a clever little predestination paradox, seeing it all happen is anticlimactic, because we saw it all before (on the one hand), and there are still missing pieces of the story (on the other). If her mother knew nothing about the signals and the suit is meant to burn out upon reaching the future, then how do the signals get into Spock's head in the first place? Maybe I missed something. I guess she was lying so Michael didn't know her own future. Trippy 2001-style sequence though.

Now, before you think I didn't like the episode, let me give it some love (the other "big problem" can keep for now). Lots of character moments, of course. Tilly does a very Tilly thing. Emotions are raw. Cornwell DOES get a good send-off, all things considered, and Pike is great, whether feeling invulnerable because of he knows his fate, or stunned during the carnage. Number One gets a lot of crackers, but also a canonical first name, Una. I like the various reactions on the bridge while they go through the wormhole. Jett's sass getting an eye roll out of Burnham and nearly a reprimand from Saru. Georgiou gleefully watching Leland/Control die. But the real highlight is the Michael's final farewell to Spock. It takes a little too much time than it should given the urgency of the moment, but I watched it twice and every time, her advice to him got me right in the ticker. She basically sends him into Kirk and (especially, I think) McCoy's arms, a means to find the balance that she once represented. It's very well put, and gorgeously acted, and because we have all this knowledge of the future, it resonates incredibly strongly.

The end is a lot more final that I bargained for, though I predicted a new status quo in the offing. I knew Discovery would go to the future and spend at least a season there. Spock is left behind, which cements it, though Georgiou leaves with the ship, so I don't know how she'll connect back to Section 31 (my guess is the mom's time suit, but back to what era?). And this is good, because we get to discover the Trek universe 930 years from this date, many centuries even after TNG, and the Sphere Archive might yet become a character (as seen in Calypso). Cool. But never to return? The reason it feels as final as it does is that the epilogue goes out of its way to explain why no one we know ever mentioned Burnham, Discovery, or the spore drive on screen. Look, it's just something that comes with doing prequels, but I find no real need to bow to the will of the nerds who screamed bloody murder about this. I mean, this very episode still gives us cute hull robots that fix battle damage, right? Anyway, it seems that the show's new bosses decided doing a prequel was all a big mistake, and moving forward, it won't be an issue. Scorched earth policy, etc. In other words, there's no returning to this time frame, unless Ash Tyler as Section 31 chief is meant to set up the S31 series which Georgiou returns to. I think it's a bit draconian, and so I call it the other "big problem", but I can forgive it because though the production wanted to leave the pre-TOS era behind, it at least threw a big party for it. The season's wonderful use of Pike, young Spock and the original Enterprise, filling out the Vulcan's back story the way it did, but making Pike one of the great captains as well (something denied him to that point), makes the best out of the prequel conceit. Even the themes seem to foreshadow TOS'. And that last shot, moving out of the Enterprise bridge and into space even mirrors the opening shot of The Cage. Beautiful book end to the era, regardless of when the episodes were made. We're ready to move on. We got our money's worth.

LESSON: Maybe prequels are a bad idea, like many fans have been saying all along.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium, but a strong Medium:
But for a stand-out scene, the kitchen sink approach would sink this juggernaut.


De said...

I didn't mind Discovery jumping into the future, but good golly did I roll my eyes when Spock suggested any mention of the ship, crew, or mission be considered treason. Like you, I felt it was a Hail Mary play to pander to complainiac fanboys that we know full well will never stop complaining.

It's too bad a Pike series doesn't appear to be a possibility in the near term.


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