Star Trek #1524: The Hope Is You, Part 2

CAPTAIN'S LOG: It's a race against the clock to beat Osyraa and rescue the away team.

WHY WE LIKE IT: Zareh dies, finally. Hate that guy.

WHY WE DON'T: Oh no, those uniforms, no.

REVIEW: Of interest in the finale is how the crew takes the ship back from Osyraa. Of much less interest is all the Su'Kal stuff on the dilithium planet. Basically, it's either a replay of what Burnham did to calm the distraught Kelpien down, with Saru in the role. Or else they just reveal things that were already inferred, said or obvious. Yeah he caused the Burn. Yeah it was a reaction to his mother's death. Yeah. Duh. These sequences, played as fantasy thanks to the holo-environment, ask us to accept a child with a subspace connection to all dilithium everywhere (as amplified by the planet). Fine. I'm less gracious about the extremely magical idea that Gray, to this point believed to be a projection of Adira's (or rather her symbiont's) mind, can be detected by the ship and given a physical holographic form. Uhm, what? Now sure, it's great for the actor, as they'll probably give him a mobile emitter that will allow him to properly join the cast in Season 4. I certainly appreciate the thematic resonance of his "being seen". But how does this work exactly? The 32nd Century has a lot of high-tech that looks like magic, but none of the onscreen evidence points to a reasonable explanation here. Puzzling, and the tedious plot mechanics of this part of the story don't offer relief.

On Discovery, things are more exciting, but still often tend towards the puzzling. Osyraa's pseudo-British accent unique to the previous episode is gone. They make a big deal out of one of the Zora-possessed DOT robots getting fried and making the "ultimate sacrifice" and we're supposed to feel happy when it is fixed, but... doesn't the Sphere Data exist independently of this robot, across several computers? The Ni'Var fleet answers Burnham's distress signal, but though they force Osyraa's hand, they don't play much of a role, nor does Michael's mother make an appearance. Owosekun is flagged as the end-of-season sacrifice (typically, this is one of her best episodes, they always melt the people you've just decided to love), but survives. In fact, there is no toll exacted. A lot of moments where you think we'll lose someone, but they always get saved. And I don't want to lose any of these characters, so that's good, but the episode is shot so as to create a lot of false stakes.

I also have an issue (yeah, sorry, I'm sounding quite negative here) with the way the ship is presented. Owo gets up to a nacelle while the nacelle is separated, so what's up with that simple ladder? I understand the ship has been modified for 32nd-Century compatibility, but that central core room looks like nothing else aboard ship. And if it's been modified (as the programmable matter walls indicate), why are there still old-school cartridge breakers Michael can pull out? And then there's the empty space inside the ship... This was suggested in the pilot, but I find it ridiculous that the belly of a starship would be all empty space with turbolifts flying around. Worse, the fight between Booker and Zareh lasts so long, it makes it seem like Discovery is gigantic (the graphics put it in the Borg Cube category), and even so the lift has to be running around in circles. I know you want a vertiginous action finale, but it doesn't make any sense. Move the finale to Osyraa's ship, which has a hanger big enough to fit Disco, and it could work.

If the plot is a mess, I'm still watching for the characters. Even with the Kelpien connection and Adira's coming in like the cavalry, Culber is clearly the hero of the planet stuff - working things out, supporting everyone emotionally. Burnham is as good as ever, Die Harding as Hard as she can, whispering code at Tilly (who opens up to the crew more than she would two years ago), making a good team with Booker, and kicking Osyraa's ass (her death is still a shame, in the sense that keeping her and the Chain around might have been better for the future). The rest of the crew work as a unit, they've really become a family, none more so than Stamets-Culber-Adira (and by extension, Gray). They are nevertheless subject to plot requirements, so Tilly gives Burnham the captain's chair (she'll have an easier time finding her catch phrase, naturally) and Booker's empathic ability allows him to interact with the mycelial field as a way to get the hell out of Dodge. Plot demands it, and the Booker thing is particularly expedient, but it seems they've found a way to reproduce the spore drive for the rest of Starfleet, albeit limited by the number of empathic Kwejian pilots they can recruit.

The core of the episode feels padded (especially the tedious planet scenes) and that becomes obvious once we get to the epilogue. All this action and we still need a lot of narration to tell us what happened next, including moments that really deserved actual scenes. Burnham is made captain at Saru's request and Vance's insistence - a good scene, but Saru just disappears from the narrative and is sent to Kaminar to help Su'Kar integrate. I'm sure he'll be back next year, but it's odd that he's not given that moment with Michael. Stamets may not have forgiven Michael for putting his loved ones at risk, but it's just a look in montage. We're told that all the old friends are joining the Federation again, and that the Chain has collapsed without Osyraa. That was easy. A scene with Sahil from the first episode is all we really get to show the new status quo, in what seems like an extreme shortcut to set up the next season. I can't help but feel like they should have ended the episode earlier and let us catch up to a new, better status quo at the start of Season 4, or possibly through some Short Treks to build it up. The other sign than things have moved on is the uniforms. Discovery is now wearing the pale gray band uniforms (what, no epaulets?) with rank chokers, and I I dislike them immensely. They work fine in the shiny white hallways of the Federation hub, but not in the darker sets of Discovery, and do not look flattering on most of the leads, and despite the change in Starfleet, look much more military than it ought to.

It's possible Burnham's final narration, emphasizing sentients' need for connection, was tweaked to speak to the post-COVID world, but this was a theme all along, and I deeply appreciate the Gene Roddenberry's quote at the very end, bringing it back to Trek's creator. Theme and character worked in unison, I just wish I could say the plot felt more organic.

LESSON: Nothing like fireworks to stop a party. Huh?

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: Obviously important in terms of incident, but the plotting is full of holes and jerk-arounds.

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