In the future when all’s well.
Full spoilers follow for this episode.
And there you have it: The USS Discovery has disappeared a thousand years into the future, apparently never to be heard from again in the 23rd century. And not just that, but everyone who knew of its true mission into time has agreed to keep it a secret even from Starfleet Command, essentially wiping the ship and her crew from the history books. I guess…?
Look, the Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 finale crams a lot into its running time, and it’s as sloppy as much of the overall season has been, raising as many questions as it answers in its attempts to sync with canon. But like much of this second season, it’s also pretty effective, offering up nice character interplay, crazy visuals and effects, and some “whoa” moments of Star Trek grandeur.
The chief among these, of course, is the Discovery’s trip into the Red Angel wormhole, as it disappears in a very Star Trek: The Motion Picture-esque stream of rainbow blur. It has become increasingly likely that this was where the show was going this year, but there was no way of knowing for sure. And it’s a really big moment for Discovery, resetting the series for Season 3 in a ballsy as hell way. There’ve been whispers that this had been the plan for Discovery perhaps as far back as before it debuted, that the Disco crew would be catapulted into different time periods each season, and now a version of that is happening. It’s kind of great.
That said, the attempt by the show’s writers to close the loop on why we’ve never heard of Burnham or the spore drive or the Discovery in previous Trek shows is less successful. Spock and Pike and the rest lie to Starfleet about the ship’s true fate, but the decision is also made to basically wipe the Discovery and her crew from the books. But why exactly? Sure, the argument can be made that all the time travel stuff with the Red Angel needs to stay secret, and one supposes that’s also true of the spore drive, which also time-travelled last season. But Michael did start the Klingon war after all. How do you erase that from history?
So while it may not be the most, ahem, logical of ways to line up with The Original Series (and beyond), where we wind up with Michael and Spock’s relationship is terrific all the same. Starting the season with them not being on speaking terms and also ending the season in the same way just wasn’t going to work, so the fact that they have both grown to accept the past for what it is, and look to the future, is about as Star Trek-ian a viewpoint as there is.
We also come full circle on Spock’s “faith vs. science” dilemma, which was hinted at early on in the season and then kind of abandoned. “The Universe is under no obligation to make sense,” Spock paraphrases (paraphrase Neil deGrasse Tyson, in fact). So he does a very un-Vulcan thing and chooses to believe, to have faith, that Michael and the Discovery were successful, and that they’re alive and well somewhere… out there. How very… human.
And of course, Michael’s final pep talk to Spock is her basically telling him, in so many words, to go find his… Kirk. It’s one of those moments that comes often in Star Trek: Discovery; you either choose to go with it or you don’t. If you’re willing to give into the show despite its occasional foibles, if you open yourself up — like the wings of a Red Angel spreading wide even! — to the idea that, yes, Spock once had a sister named Michael who he lost, then this is a moment that works. And if you’re not willing to accept it, then maybe it’s time to just move on to a different show.
But that also illustrates what’s frustrating about the reset that happens here. Because after two years of fighting to establish itself in the ecosystem of “10 years before TOS,” it feels like Discovery has given up, if just a little, by jumping away from all those continuity hazards. We’ll have to see what happens in Season 3, it seems.
Of course, there’s so much more going on in “Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2.” Stamets and Hugh are reunited when Paul is injured, though I don’t quite buy the arc that relationship has taken here. Section 31 is in need of “a radical overhaul” and Tyler’s the man in charge now, while Control is stuck to the floor in engineering on the Discovery. Which… wasn’t the whole point of going to the future to get away from Control? And the Enterprise is badly damaged and refitted, and heading off on a new mission by the end of the episode with Spock in classic, full bridge-officer form. (That’s a show I’d watch.)
Questions and Notes from the Q Continuum:
- Let’s take an accounting: The Disco crew now consists of Burnham, Saru, Tilly, Stamets, Culber, and Jett Reno. Also, Georgiou was still onboard at the time, as was Nhan who is seemingly still alive. And then of course there’s the secondary crew like Detmer, Owosekun, etc. And presumably we’ll find Dr. Burnham in the future?
- Those we left behind: Admiral Cornwell is dead, killed because we needed dramatic stakes and her character was not going to be around for Season 3 anyway. Of course, the crew of the Enterprise got Pike and Spock back too. And then there’s Tyler and L’Rell, left behind for (hopefully) the Section 31 show to pick them both up. And of course Sarek and Amanda will apparently never see their daughter again either… and we’ll never see them again. At least not on this show if the time jump sticks.
- We never did sort out who the captain would be post-Pike. Has to be Saru, right?
- Notice how the Golden Gate Bridge doesn’t actually have any vehicles on it? Or even a proper road? Because… why would it?
- Regulation 157, Section 3, which Spock quotes, comes from Deep Space Nine’s “Trials and Tribble-ations.”
- Crazy Inception-style gravity fight FTW!
- If Season 3 is in fact set 1000 years in the future, that will be the most distant point in the Star Trek timeline seen yet.