Every scene of Star Trek: Discovery has been leading to this one episode.
Two seasons, 29 episodes, four Short Treks, and countless hours of angry fan boys clutching pearls and shouting "but canon" have led to one iconic Star Trek moment.
Thursday night's Discovery Season 2 finale "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2" is a direct clap back at all of the criticism the show has faced. Every claim that the show was boring and lacked action, every insinuation that a woman can't lead a sci-fi franchise show, every scoff that the show would never be in line with canon, was flipped on its head and blown to smithereens. The result is one hour and five minutes of action-packed, blink-and-you'll-miss-it, science fiction mic drop. However, despite the jaw dropping cinematic experience and the heart wrenching character development, at the end of two seasons Discovery still feels like it is trying to find itself. How many more beginnings will it take?
Red alert, an army of spoiler drones attacking below.
That Battle Though
This episode was epic. There is no other word that adequately summarizes the array of experiences and emotions that "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2" evoked. Most of the episode took place over the course of one of the most dramatic, complicated, dirty, and brutal battles in Trek history. Outnumbered, outmatched, outmaneuvered, and outgunned, Pike (Anson Mount) and the Enterprise weren't aiming to win the battle, just to survive long enough to get the Discovery to safety. Every single character went into the battle knowing they might not survive. In the words of the Klingons, "today is a good day to die."
However, at a certain point, it felt like the show had been saving up all of the battle and action scenes from the entire season and played them all at once. There was an endless number of ships, bottomless shields, and fighting just for the sake of fighting. The visuals were amazing, but I was itching for things to get started. Spock (Ethan Peck) and Burnham's (Sonequa Martin-Green) logical process conversation in the debris field was great, and provided excellent context and a great twist, but it was ridiculously long. It is hard to believe that two of the smartest minds in Starfleet thought it was a good idea to have a philosophical meeting of the minds in the middle of a dangerous battle. While these thoughts did take me out of the action a little bit, they were not enough to lose my attention.
The Women Save The Universe…Again.
Long before Kirk (William Shatner) and Picard (Patrick Stewart) boldly go, it was a group of women who saved the Universe. In every aspect of the episode, every facet of the battle, it was the women who showed up and risked everything to get the job done:
● Burnham stepped into the Red Angel suit and jumped into a battle in order to lead her crew on a journey into the unknown.
● Nhan (Rachael Ancheril) and Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) cracked jokes while taking on a homicidal "AI sausage" in a hallway fight scene so amazingly choreographed Daredevil would be jealous.
● Po (Yadira Guevara-Prip) stole a shuttle craft in order to lead the fleet in a successful attack pattern.
● Jett Reno (Tig Notaro) stood, unprotected, in the thrall of the time crystal and then risked her life to deliver it.
● Admiral Cornwell (Jayne Brook) stood next to an armed torpedo and put her own body between it and her people.
● Number 1 (Rebecca Romijn) remained steady and in control as the Enterprise burned around her.
● Tilly (Mary Wiseman) crawled into the guts of the Discovery to save everyone on board.
● Siranna (Hannah Spear) and L'Rell (Mary Chieffo) made the Discovery's fight their fight, saving Starfleet from its own creation in order to serve the greater good.
Burnham Finds Her Wings
No one had more to lose than Burnham. The survival of all sentient life depended on her ability to fly a suit she had never used before into a future she couldn't predict. Her realization in the debris field that the Red Signals were not from the future, but from the present, was a great scene to watch. You can almost see her confidence grow. She knows she can do it, because she knows she already has. The Vulcan salute between Michael and Spock right before Burnham departs was so beautifully evocative that I could almost see young Spock (Liam Hughes) in Ethan Peck's face. It helps her find peace in leaving behind everything she has ever known. I have really enjoyed seeing Burnham's character grow as a woman, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and an officer this season.
Such Sweet Sorrow
The atmosphere is beautifully bittersweet as the Discovery takes her (very, very) long journey into the quantum singularity and the future. Pike says goodbye to the crew that has become his family over the past year. Tyler (Shazad Latif) watches as the woman he loves leaves forever. L'Rell watches Tyler pine for someone else. Control/Leland (Alan Van Sprang) is finally destroyed by a creepily giggling Georgiou. Culber (Wilson Cruz) makes a surprise appearance and professes his love of Stamets (Anthony Rapp). Siranna gets to say goodbye to her brother. And the crew of the Discovery looks forward to a very uncertain future. I found myself both pleasantly surprised and disappointed that the only news we got from the Discovery after its departure was the seventh Red Signal. I was hoping, and dreading, the view from 950 years in the future.
The Canonical Reckoning
As the dust settles and the survivors return to Starfleet headquarters, Star Trek fans finally get the canon reset they have been waiting for. In order to protect the Red Angel technology and Burnham's mission, everyone claims the Discovery was destroyed. The files are sealed, the information classified, and everyone swears to protect the secret. It was a respectful, elegant, yet realistically bureaucratic way of bringing Discovery in line with everything we know about Star Trek. For the first time, I saw the influence Burnham had on the Spock we all know and love, and was finally able to accept the adjusted timeline into my head canon.
Putting The Pieces Together
What the Season 2 finale doesn't answer, however, is where Star Trek: Discovery goes from here. While the show re-inventing itself each season has fostered creative storytelling and flexibility, it has left the show without a defined identity. From all appearances, the third season of Discovery will take the show in yet another direction. I am both excited and apprehensive about the next season of Discovery. With the second season being so different from the first – and a new twist coming with the third season – I honestly don't have a feel for what is coming in Season 3. The characters I love will still be around, and Burnham's internal angst is not going anywhere, but this season finale leaves me at a loss regarding the tone and direction that Discovery will be aiming for when it next airs.
Lastly, the scenes aboard the Enterprise at the close of the episode seemed more like a pilot for a new Captain Pike series than the sweet, sorrowful close of a chapter for Discovery. I loved seeing Spock become our Spock, and the nostalgic scenes on the Enterprise bridge, but I couldn't help thinking "this is Discvoery, not Enterprise!" It left me with the feeling that this elaborate story about a smart, compassionate, driven woman who sacrificed herself for the greater good was just a vehicle to launch a new, nostalgic series. As excited as I am about the prospect of more Pike, Number 1, Spock, and the Enterprise, I wanted to say goodbye to my Discovery friends instead.
More Star Trek Shows In The (Nearer) Future?
Discovery's journey into the future also opens up new questions about the already-announced Section 31 spin-off starring Michelle Yeoh. If Georgiou traveled 950 years into the future with the Discovery, how will she star in a Section 31 show that presumably takes place in the show's current timeline? Yeoh said recently that the Section 31 show will be filmed after Season 3 of Discovery. Does that mean Georgiou somehow makes it back from the future by the end of the show's junior year? Will Season 3 take place only in the future, or will we also see what is happening in "present" day? The time travel concept opens up so many possibilities and so many questions. Alas, we will have a long time to wait for answers.
As I sign off from my final review of the season, here are my final random thoughts from the second-season finale "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2":
● Nhan and Georgiou are the female buddy cop comedy duo we need. Yum Yum.
● The small shuttles flying around Burnham as she escaped the battle reminded me of all the decoy Harry Potters in The Deathly Hallows or Padme's handmaidens in The Phantom Menace.
● Burnham's trip through time to set the five Red Signals was very 2001: A Space Odyssey.
● Tilly gets free beers, forever.
● How did all of those little ships fit into the Enterprise and the Discovery? Is there a shuttle factory aboard?
● I am beyond thrilled that it appears Jett Reno will be back next season. "Get off my ass. Sir."
● The thought of Sarek (James Frain) and Amanda (Mia Kirshner) having a secret daughter they aren't allowed to talk about and don't know the fate of actually makes me understand their later Star Trek characters more.
● Will we ever get to find out Number 1's real name?
● Apparently, the Enterprise now has repair droids that pop out of its hull like ghost shaped R2 units? Are the visual effects staff auditioning for a Star Wars film?