The final installment of Star Trek: Discovery saw the end of war. But was it also the beginning of something else?
Star Trek: Discovery‘s first season is [fill in the blank]. Some words I tossed around tonight included: frustrating, disappointing, exciting, kick-ass, bold, and innovative.
Looking back over this season, all of those words apply. As Discovery attempted to figure out what it was, I too, had to sort through what the show would be to me.
Personally, I will never hear an argument that will justify Dr. Culber’s death. And I certainly will always love the idea of a spore-drive connecting with the very real mycelial networks of the universe to travel.
Turns out, Discovery hooked me from episode one. And I’m glad I stuck out the journey, violent turbulence and all.
Discovery‘s first season set out to tell the story of how one mutineer started who started a war with the Klingons, ended up the hero who ended it. That is, of course, simplifying the journey of Michael Burnham. In the final episode, “Will You Take My Hand?” Discovery seems to be asking the same question of its viewers.
Now that they’ve shown us what they can do. Will we take their hand and continue to boldly go forward? Even that is into territory some other iterations have boldly gone before?
In short, I will. Here’s a breakdown of how the finale highlighted the shortcomings and strengths of Discovery‘s maiden voyage.
Choosing war over ‘Discovery’
Battle, red alerts, shields up, fear. This nothing new for Star Trek. Being the heart of war is an interesting setting for a series launch. Especially when your lead character is responsible for setting it into motion.
War and death by war changes people. It means cadets who want to study spores are now manipulating their biological properties to create evasive maneuvers. Klingons who want to unite their clans are now bartering for food and launching attacks. And a show looking to balance the old with the new had to grapple with all that Federation war, mirror universes, and spore travel have to offer.
This season was an exploratory outing, opting for serialization over episodic adventures. And it payed off for many of the characters, but particularly for Michael Burnham.
Discovery opens its final episode with a tale. A soldier preparing for battle asks her general,”Once I know fear, how do I defeat it?”
This, I believe, is a story Discovery told quite well. It’s not about defeating fear, but recognizing when and why it is where. Burnham carries the torch for this arc, but many, many others follow.
Saru, Tilly, Stamets, everyone who returned to duty after the Battle of Binary Stars. They all faced some form of adversary, namely Burnham herself at the start, and worked together to overcome it.
And that is what Star Trek is about — coming together for what is right, even if it is hard. Exploring new frontiers not only in space, but in ourselves. It didn’t always hit the nail on the head. But every death, Klingon insight, and mirror universe scenario, informed a piece of Burnham’s story.
Philippa Georgina’s return
Before questioning the deeper meaning of Philippa Georgiou’s return to Discovery, let’s get the best aspect of it out in the open — Michelle Yeoh. Her fighting skills, her ability to cut people in two with her speech and her eyes, and did you see that landing party cape?
However, in the days following the death of Captain Georgiou, many fans, myself included, were not exactly pleased with em>Discovery’s chosen course. Her death, and subsequent war, set Michael Burnham on her path.
The path to Lorca, to the Discover, to spores and alternate universe Tilly. It served as the catalyst for the human Burnham, to accept that some emotions, despite her Vulcan teachings, are worth carrying around.
Burnham’s drive to not only avenge the death of Georgina, but to end the war, challenged her to stop building walls of isolation and look to others, a crew, to chart her new direction.
Then, of course, everything was shattered by Lorca. Burnham was betrayed by a Captain and let to confront her past, quite literally, face-to-face. It was enough for me to have Yeoh back for an episode or two. The biggest consolation prize arriving as Emperor Georgiou fought side-by-side with Burnham against Lorca.
Acting Captain Georgiou, set in her post by the Federation, was another story. The needs of the many, were left in the hands of the few. Those few being Star Fleet in crisis. With the Klingon’s attacking from all sides, it made sense that to win, one had to think outside of the box.
Luckily, there happened to be someone aboard the Discovery who was not familiar with the box at all. And while watching Georgiou is a gift, watching Burnham come to find that she needs to stop looking for her idol and come to lead herself — using the skills and tools her mentor left her — was the most satisfying moment of Georgiou’s return.
And who knows, we may see her again.
‘tlhoy loQ paSbej’ Klingons
Too little, too late for the Klingons.
Want to watch the entire season with Klingon subtitles? Go right ahead! But this awesome feature is only one small aspect of the war meant to drive this first chapter.
The first five episodes featured a look at the 24 houses, their lack of unity, their attempts to join forces, their failures to do so. And what we were left with was L’Rell, a prisoner of war. She provided the deepest look inside the Klingon mindset. That is until the finale.
Enter, or rather, re-enter, Voq/Ash Tyler. The life-saving surgery, gave Ash a second chance at having physical control. But now he also has some Harry/Voldemort style access into Voq’s mind.
Part of the mission, or at least what the group spoke to at Comic-Con, was the humanize the Klingons. Now, I did not take that to mean they were literally going to humanize a Klingon.
I found myself watching those opening scenes with such intensity, hearing their language, attempting to understand their world. The payoff, however, never truly arrived.
L’Rell won a victory in the sense that a female, a nobody from a clan not held in high-esteem by the Klingons, brought the empire to its knees. A common thread, Kronos, united the ununitable.
I’m still not entirely sure why Voq/Tyler needed to depart with her. He could potentially serve some purpose, but I believe L’Rell will need to keep him hidden while tensions from the war settle.
A few other highs from the finale before we look ahead to season 2!
- Every single thing about Georgiou seducing the dancers for information
- Tyler and Burnham having closure
- Tilly tapping back into Killy for a little bit
- Stamets accepting Culber’s medal of honor
- Saru being recognized as the first Kelpian to receive the medal of honor
- The Enterprise?
We’ll need some time to think about that last one.