Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 or How to Fix a Franchise in Half a Season or Less
Red Alert: SPOILERS AHEAD! This is a re-cap and commentary on season 2 of Star Trek Discovery. Don't read this if you don't want the season spoiled for you.
Star Trek: Discovery season 2 has come to a close and we the viewer are left with more questions than we have answers. That is a GOOD thing. The greatest thing Alex Kurtzman has done is move the Discovery and her crew 930 years into the future. This is what fans have been waiting for since the TNG era ended. A new take! Removed from everything we know about the Federation, the Alpha quadrant and the entire galaxy. Positioning itself to create new stories and new adventures that instead of being shackled by the past, is enriched by it.
Season 2 is a tale of two productions. The first five episodes being the product of Season One's tag team of show runners Gretchen J Berg and Aaron Harberts. This continuing of their ill-conceived notion of what Star Trek should be falls flat. Highlights from the first half of the season include Episode 2 “New Eden”. Here we get to see Captain Pike shine. As Captain on the ship and in his under cover persona while visiting the the inhabitants of New Eden. These inhabitants are the decedents of pre-warp Earth circa WWIII. Therefor the Prime Directive (referred to here as General Order number 1) must be observed. We also get to see the magnanimous side of Pike. The episode ends with Pike admitting to Jacob that they were indeed from Earth. Pike explains Earth did survive. He also provides an energy source for the lights of the church to remain on. This breaks the rules, but for the right reasons, this is Star Trek at its finest.
The next few episodes start correcting the egregious changes made to Star Trek lore. Saru loses his overabundance of fear. A McGuffin appears in “An Obol for Charon”. This being an ancient sphere that was dying. The Sphere needed Discovery’s hard drive space to upload its vast knowledge of the cosmos. “Point of Light” is a valiant attempt at undoing at least some of the dumpster fire that was the Klingons. " Saints of Imperfection tries to find something interesting about the mycelial network. Dr. Culber comes back to life as well. This brings us to “The Sound of Thunder”. We endure this episode. We learn more about Saru and the Kelpians' struggle with their home world's overlords the Ba’ul. We again get to see the magnanimous side of Pike. This is where Discovery almost lost me entirely. However, I promise you should keep reading and watching because the best is yet to come.
This brings us to what I am affectionately referring to as The Airiam Trilogy, this is where the show really starts to pick up. The next three episodes are some of the best Star Trek has to offer. While in orbit above Kaminar, Control, the AI system that has been calculating Section 31s strategy since the Klingon War has gone rogue!!
We start this journey in a time vortex. Where past, present, and future all seem to converge on this location, because of course they do. Pike and Tyler are taking a shuttle craft in to retrieve their probe. The shuttle craft gets caught in the vortex. Stamets uses the mycelial network to pinpoint the location of the trapped shuttle craft. Tilly beams him in to save both Pike and Tyler from the now future upgraded and human hating probe. Before they can make their big escape though the probe downloads itself into the Discovery computer system. In doing so it also takes over Airiam without her realizing it.
Airiam, now an unwitting agent of the Control AI is secretly working to thwart Discovery's every move. Meanwhile, messages are discovered being sent to Section 31. Everyone is sure this must be Tyler, he is confined to his quarters for the duration.
Kurtzman throws down the gauntlet in "If Memory Serves". Utilizing footage from the original series pilot episode “the Cage”, he smashes every fanboy cannon gripe right in the face. It was magical. The Teliosians fix Spock and we learn more about his and Burnham relationship. Admiral Cornwall shows up with some season 1 dialog between her and Pike. Only to later inform the entire bridge crew that not only is Pike a great captain, he is Literally Star Fleet's best.
Discovery shows up to sections 31's base to find that everyone is dead and has been dead for weeks. They put together that Control has taken over and is using holograms to subvert Star Fleet to retrieve the Sphere data so it can become fully functional. Airiam allows herself to be killed by Nahn before she can complete her data transfer for Control. This is one of the best-written scenes we’ve witnessed yet. After being jettisoned, as she floats into space Tilly sends Airiam her favorite memory. We watch in the refection of her eyes as she succumbs to the vacuum of space. I cried.
Michael Burnham's mom is “The Red Angel” … womp womp.
“Perpetual Infinity” sure did feel like it. This episode wraps up all the plot wholes that formed by the previous episodes. Dr. Burnham gets sucked back to the future. Control makes itself a body with not Borg like technology, no not Borg like at all. Alan van Sprang did an amazing job portraying Leland, an over compensating insecure jerk. Then blew it out of the water as a completely evil for evils sake monster in Control.
Boreth! Remember Boreth? Where Worf sought spiritual guidance in his quest to be the greatest Worf he could be. Where Kahless appeared to him in the cave and we all rejoiced. Until he was found to be a clone created by the Monks--never mind. Man, I miss TNG. We're back at Boreth, where Tyler left his Albino Klingon baby who the empire thinks is dead for reasons, so Tyler can’t go down. The Klingon Chancellor L'Rell, AKA Mom, also cannot be seen to acknowledge the baby. So it’s up to Captain Pike to go to a Klingon monastery and take a time crystal back with him. I can't believe I just wrote that sentence. Pike, for his service is treated to a glimpse of his future when he takes the crystal, which is the byproduct of obtaining it. He faces the outcome of himself, crippled and burned, unable to speak, in the future wheel chair/rolling burn unit we see him relegated to the TOS classic “the Menagerie”. Despite seeing his fate and knowing that if he takes the crystal it cannot be changed, in another Star Trek best moment he repeats to himself his oath as a Star Fleet Captain, and he leaves Boreth, time crystal in hand, knowing his fate, and having earned the Honor of the Klingons. “Through the Valley of Shadows” is worth the watch.
The opening of the two part “Such Sweet Sorrow” finale gives every crying fanboy who has bemoaned this series from the moment the casting was announced their shining moment. A future revealed to Michal Burnham through her contact with the time crystal has Control, as Leland, storm the bridge of Discovery, mow down the entire bridge crew with merciless perfection, starting with a head shot to Georgiou and culminating in the single hand choking and head shot to the face execution of Michael Burnham. Neck Beards everywhere cried out in one voice “YES!”. But of course, this is not the end for Michael Burnham, nor Discovery. She Snaps back to reality and immediately informs everyone of what just happened. They conclude that it is in fact Discovery that must be sent into the future with the Sphere data to ensure that the destruction of all life by Control can never unfold. I’m sold!
Loads of techno babble and some closure for Stamets and Colburn later, we are prepping for battle and having some goodbyes for Michael who will not be returning from bringing Discovery and her data into the future. That doesn’t sound very Star Fleet does it? You would be right, the entire bridge crew along with Nahn, Spock and Georgiou volunteer to take Discovery into the future with Michael. The focus on real character development is fast paced, but written so well, by the time Discovery, The Enterprise and all their battle-ready shuttles are surrounded by Section 31 ships, I'm as invested as I’ve been in any Star Trek show I’ve ever watched.
Part two is hands down the greatest space battle ever put forth on television, from start to finish we are treated to a well-cut and smartly paced episode that hits all the marks. As the battle wages in space, we watch as Michael, Stamets, Tilly and Jet assemble the time suite. Rush it to the main shuttle bay. Stamets takes a digger and gets impaled in the chest. Tilly gets him to sick bay. Michael and Spoke take the suite the rest of the way. Spock takes a shuttle craft to lead the charge out of the battle to a safe place to launch the Time Portal.
The battle ensues. Things are looking grim for our heroes. The Enterprise has an unexploded photon torpedo jammed into its saucer section. Shields are low. Discovery had to drop their aft shields to allow Burnham and Spock to get out and Control beamed in while they did. Meanwhile Burnham and Spock can’t get the Suite to make the portal for the future, the tide is turning, all may be lost. But wait, what’s this? It’s the Klingons! And the Kelpians? Ok. But Star Fleet rallies and the battle is far from over now. Burnham realizes she has to set all the previous singles before they can move forwards and a greatest hits roll of Season two unfolds. Michael then opens the portal to the future and Discovery follows her through. Georgiou defeats Control, the battle ends.
We open to a faceless Star Fleet Admiral debriefing the remaining officers. This in-cannon explanation for why we know nothing about any of the last two seasons is awesome. As far as Star Fleet is concerned, the Discovery was destroyed all hands lost. As well as the spore dive and Control. As a remedy to this happening again, no one can ever speak of the events that have unfolded or face penalty of death.
Star Trek is never perfect, it can take a few seasons for things to iron out, the grief this show has endured is widely unjust. Personally, I cannot wait to see what the future holds for Discovery.