‘Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2’– Ep#214 — Pictured (l-r): Samora Smallwood as Lt. Amin; Ethan Peck as Spock; Rebecca Romijn as Number One; Anson Mount as Captain Pike of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: DISCOVERY. Photo Cr: Russ Martin/CBS ©2018 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Review: Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Ends And Trek Limps Toward The Future
Review Star Trek: Discovery The Season 2 finale continued to highlight the show’s difficulties in finding a balance between self-reflection and exploration. Like too many Star Trek adventures in recent years (Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Trek Beyond) an uncomfortable self-loathing has found its way into the property.
The aspirational ambitions of creator Gene Roddenberry lie buried below the core of stories that question the motivation of the United Federation of Planets, its politics, and its technology. This may well be a reflection of our society’s cynical and questioning zeitgeist, but Star Trek aimed higher. Roddenberry attempted to reach above the moment and create a vision for what could be.
So far, I’m not volunteering to move to Discovery’s era of Earth’s history—and I think that is a shame. While some may enjoy the show for its adventure and characters, fans of the original Star Trek want a vision that inspires them to move forward and beyond. The early introduction of the mirror universe, the Klingon backstory and Section 31 all drove story arc created opportunities, perhaps, for viewers to see themselves, but without the offer of inspiration for them to become better selves.
I’m torn though. On one hand, I love epic space battles with hundreds of ships slicing through deflector shields and lobbing torpedoes at each other. I usually appreciate those battles in the Star Wars universe, though I didn’t mind it in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In DS9, unlike Discovery, the space battle was a broader coalition of those joining the Federation, a coalition aimed at overcoming dominion from outside the Alpha Quadrant. The context made sense.
In Discovery, the final battle was driven by a motivation to divert the extinction of all sentient species in the Universe (a good motivation to be sure). Unfortunately, the battle centered on a Federation created strategic analysis computer program, Control, which achieved consciousness of sorts (and wanted to evolve more). The Federation caused the problem and ended up fighting itself with a great loss of fictional life and resources. The sketchiness of Section 31 and its mission didn’t help matters.
Problems of story
Of all impossible propositions that violate the basic laws of physics, time travel falls first, ahead of warp drive and inter-dimensional travel as the least likely to ever occur. When used sparingly, time travel can create some interesting paradox questions for characters. In great swaths, it becomes a creative crutch. In Discovery, they combine all three and add the mycelium drive as a fantasy not even based on a credible theory of any kind. Too much. Just too much.
Discovery’s convoluted plots received, needed or not, an exposition in the end. Perhaps this retelling was aimed at viewers who only tuned in for the final episode. Burnham’s head-scratching resetting of the red signals triggered a recap of almost the entire season. Show, don’t tell. Visuals would have made the point in less time. And the long Spock good-bye? Hey Star Fleet officers, how many pe
As Burnham and Discovery trek off into the far future, with a dead Control magnetized to the floor the mycelium chamber, Spock beams aboard Enterprise to start the career fans know. He shaves his beard and dons his blue uniform. It supposed to be a moment. That crossover from Discovery to Star Trek: TOS. The moment is melodramatic and overdone. The audience spent so much time in season 2 first looking for Spock, then healing Spock and then watching Spock reconcile with his “sister” that the Spock who emerges on the bridge of Enterprise isn’t my Spock. I don’t see how he could become the Spock of my childhood.
The convolutions to erase the record of Discovery, her crew and her technology is just stupid. The organization that let its AI get out of control, that started a war with the Klingons as protocol gave way to emotion from a woman raised on Vulcan, in a world where a mirror universe dictator becomes a Section 31 second banana—nowhere in that world does Star Fleet not leak its history.
Can Discovery be fixed?
They need to face it. Had discovery been set after Voyager, with different characters doing some of the same things, it might have worked. As a pre-TOS canon disrupting venture, the show fails to connect. Canon, of course, isn’t a real thing. Every show that hints at pre-dating TOS breaks canon. JJ Abrams blew it up and sucked it back through a wormhole and did dozens of blatantly canon breaking things that didn’t need broken even after the resetting of the timeline. But in that first Star Trek reboot film, team Bad Robot got the heart right. They tried pretty hard to be true to Trek (and then, as noted above, they went off the rails).
Discovery cannot be fixed with any tricks of script or fictional agreements to just “not talk about it.” They can do no more than continue to give creative nods to colors and chairs and bridge rails. There is no reconciling Discovery with TOS.
Discovery, in the end, is a different thing and perhaps that is OK. Different generations have different needs, but I think the enduring power of Star Trek has been derived from its Earth-centered optimism about the human race and how humans represent themselves in the galaxy among near-gods and among those who mean them harm. I don’t see that in Discovery, perhaps on the edges, but not at the core, which makes it a very different show.
The history of Star Trek, my Star Trek, taught me hope. And I still have hope that Discovery will learn to be more than it is today.
The Future of Star Trek: Discovery
I don’t like speculating on future plots unless I actually know something. But in the case of Discovery, Season 3 will likely focus on Discovery warping around some future version of the universe, perhaps one beyond the evolutionary bounds of humanity. Any future version of Discovery will certainly meet the science fiction criteria of plots based on humans placed in unusual circumstances.
On the other hand, discovery could be a new mission for Enterprise. Could we possibly get to see her trek off to where no one has gone before? That would be about the only way to bring this ship about.
On another note: Anson Mount’s Captain Christopher Pike and Tig Notaro’s Jett Reno were highlights. Wherever they end up (together), I’m in, be it a drink or a new show. I won’t even care if new Spock (Ethan Peck) and sort-of Number One (Rebecca Romijn) want to join us.
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