Star Trek Discovery: 1.15 Will You Take My Hand?
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Well that was disappointing. I'm sure it's going to come out eventually that a CBS executive found a few extra million in a spare pair of trousers, called up the Star Trek: Discovery show runners and said “Hey guess what, you just got two more episodes.” These last two weeks have been some of the most narratively confusing, thematically odd and ultimately disappointing outings in Trek history. Not that they were particularly bad, but I was just left asking “Why?”.
Instead of an epic space battle we were instead treated to an away mission episode. “Cool” I thought, “We get to see Qo'noS”. But nope, instead they beam down to what is essentially “The Orion Quarter”, an intergalactic bazaar filled with brothels and crack dens and whilst there are a few Klingons around for sure, it certainly didn't feel like the mission behind enemy lines it should have. It was less a tense war time season finale than something akin to a filler episode of Star Trek: Voyager. With former Emperor Georgiou having fun with some local talent and Tilly accidentally getting high (seriously) I was completely lost as to why I should care. The show clearly didn't want me to. Oh hey there's a war on you say? Klingon's are converging on Earth? But look, here's Georgiou showing off that trademark Mirror Universe pan-sexuality. Here's Tilly huffing volcanic fumes.
Even the deception that “Captain” Georgiou had returned seemed to be a non-starter. For as obvious as it must have been already, being that Discovery had just got back from an alternate universe filled with evil doppelgängers, Saru and Michael couldn't help have some of the most awkward and obvious exchanges with the new Georgiou, trying to out her in front of the bridge crew. Then of course they did just out her to Tilly to get her up to speed. I had joked that it must be obvious to everyone, a subversion on this plot point, or even that the random transporter operator who was present when they beamed Georgiou on board had just... told everyone? But no. It's never addressed as far as I can recall. Another plot point conjured into existence to justify these final two episodes that goes nowhere.
When the others realised the plan was never to use a drone to map the volcanic cave systems but to instead just nuke Qo'noS from within, breathtakingly the action halted for Michael to beam back to Discovery, get Admiral Cornwell on the horn and denounce these un-Starfleet like actions. I was honestly left thinking the scene was meant to maybe be a flashback but no, Michael took time to make this idealistic stand against her superiors all the while Georgiou was preparing to commit another act genocide. In the end they convinced her to give up the detonator in exchange for her freedom, as guaranteed by the Federation. A genocidal conquerer let loose on the galaxy, specifically because Starfleet had themselves given her the means to commit genocide, then changed their minds. I know a lot of bad decisions get made in war, but this is a TV show. The writers don't have to make their characters this short sighted and if they do, they could at least try to have it speak to something of military incompetence. Instead the episode seemed to just be flailing to fill its 45 minutes.
And then Ash Tyler. Oh boy. Of the three possible options they had for Ash, keep him on Discovery and develop his character in season 2, kill him off and bring his tragic story to an end or write him out of the show for now so they could revisit him in future should they wish; they chose the third and frankly least interesting option. After realising he has no place in Starfleet or with Michael, he just drops on us that he's leaving with L'Rell when they turn her loose. Because oh yes, they let her go too, gifting her the detonator so she can unite Qo'noS through fear of blowing it up.
Everything in this episode was so stupid.
If we see Georgiou again, I doubt I'll care. She is a monster of Starfleet's own creation, turned loose. If we see L'Rell again, I won't care. She's a mad woman set loose with a bomb, bringing her people together out of fear of annihilation. If we see Ash again... well I think you get the point. Everything here was given the weakest possible open end conclusion I think they could come up with.
I honestly wish these last two episodes hadn't existed. I wish this season had finished on episode 13 and allowed the writers enough time to figure out what happened next in season 2. But here we are. I truly and throughly enjoyed Star Trek: Discovery and didn't feel it was as uneven as a lot of other people did, but this epilogue of sorts, was a weak finish they could have and should have avoided.
But, and it's a big one, if you can stick the landing sometimes, sometimes you can leave people wanting more. And when Discovery received a distress signal from the USS Enterprise under Captain Pike, when we saw that iconic ship, when Michael and Sarek exchanged that knowing glance hinting that they know full well Spock is serving on board and when they hit us with the classic Star Trek: The Original Series theme, I was left buzzing. Though I don't imagine they will play a massive role in season 2 (see Superman's appearances in Supergirl) I can't wait to see the original cast of characters pop up and I look forward to seeing who's going to be lucky enough to play new versions of those beloved characters, so keep an eye out on that casting news later this year.
One last side note – They all got shiny medals for... not blowing up Qo'noS I guess. But Saru was left as acting Captain of the Discovery, so expect them to cast a new Captain to take command after the Enterprise cameo is over. As far as I'm concerned, Saru was robbed.