Review: Star Trek: Discovery, “Will You Take My Hand?” (Season Finale)

After what feels like an eternity we have come to the end of Discovery’s first season. While the show has already been renewed for a second season, this is effectively the end of the series for me, I think. Season one has been a huge disappointment, and watching season two would be naught but an act of masochism on my part.

The official logo for Star Trek: DiscoveryDiscovery is not a good Star Trek show. Rather than chart new territory or in any way capture the sense of exploration at the heart of the franchise, it spent the entire season milking already tired Trek plot threads, whilst at the same time utterly failing to understand what made those ideas compelling in the first place. The Mirror Universe without camp. Klingons without honour.

But more importantly, Discovery is just not a good show, period. It is, in a word, dumb.

Look, I’m not a stickler for continuity or realism. I’m not bothered at all that Discovery looks so different from the original series, despite taking place in roughly the same era. I’m not bothered by the fact the spore drive makes no sense in the context of either Trek lore or real world science. Little stuff like that doesn’t faze me.

But when every single episode, every single arc, has at least glaring plot hole or logical inconsistency, it’s much harder to tolerate. It speaks to sloppiness, to laziness, on the part of the writers.

And the worst part is that Discovery doesn’t know it’s dumb. It’s all played incredibly straight and serious. It’s a very dumb show that thinks it’s very smart, and the lack of self-awareness and utter tone-deafeness ruins it more than anything else.

It’s no coincidence that two of Discovery’s most enjoyable episodes are also its most unabashedly silly. As a “popcorn show,” Discovery could have worked. But it wants all the credit of being thought-provoking television without doing any of the legwork, and the end result is disastrous.

Doug Jones as Commander Saru in Star Trek: DiscoveryIn retrospect I should have given up on Discovery much sooner. I regret wasting my time watching it, and blogging on it.

For all that I can be ranty at times, I do try to keep this blog from being too negative. There’s already so much negativity in fandom, and I’m loathe to contribute to it. I know a lot of people are enjoying Discovery, and it’s wrong of me to rain on their parades. But the show had potential, and I kept hoping, and when that hope was lost, blogging on it was a welcome catharsis for my frustration over Discovery’s wasted potential.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s cover the finale, shall we?

In “Will You Take My Hand,” Mirror Georgiou implements her plan to win the war by destroying Qo’nos, and much of the episode deals with the moral dilemma that presents.

Right away, the episode had me facepalming. Last week we were told the Federation had lost 20% of their territory and roughly a third of their fleet, which is bad, but not unrecoverable. But now suddenly the Klingons are at Earth’s doorstep.

Sure, whatever.

The dilemma over the genocide also fails utterly.

Firstly, this plan would never have worked. Destroying their homeworld would just make the Klingons even angrier, and as they are a large empire, it probably wouldn’t have crippled their war machine. More importantly, if the Klingon fleet is already at Earth, blowing up Qo’nos won’t do anything. They’d destroy Earth, then head home. Or just take Earth as a new home.

The titular ship in Star Trek: DiscoverySecondly, there’s no moral quandary here. Discovery has never once portrayed Klingons as anything but the embodiment of evil. There is no good in them. There’s no reason to spare them. They’ll always be a threat to anyone around them.

Also, it needs to be said that the Tyler/Voq arc is now proven to have been utterly pointless. It does nothing to affect the arc of the season or its ending, and offers no satisfying conclusion of any kind. It was a complete waste of time.

The only highlight here is, once again, Tilly. Aside from usual her delightfulness, I loved the moment where she shoves aside Tyler — who is clearly making Burnham uncomfortable — to walk beside Burnham instead. A subtle but powerful moment of her looking out for her friend.

Otherwise, a disappointing end to a disappointing season.

Overall rating: 4/10

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Review: Star Trek: Discovery, “Despite Yourself”

I keep wanting to call this episode, “Trek Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself.”

The official logo for Star Trek: DiscoverySo the speculation was correct: Following a malfunction with the spore drive, the Discovery has arrived in the Mirror Universe. This puts not only the ship in danger, but all of the Federation, as Discovery is the only ship with the intel needed to defeat Klingon cloaking. Desperate to return home, the crew hatches a daring scheme to infiltrate the Terran Empire and gain information crucial to finding a path back to their home universe.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Tyler’s mental state continues to deteriorate, putting the mission in jeopardy.

I was a little suspicious of Discovery going to the Mirror Universe so soon in the series, and it seems I was right to be concerned. Really, is rehashing old TOS plots all this show can do?

More importantly — and this is a weird thing to say, but it’s true — Discovery is way too dark to make the Mirror Universe work. Yes, it’s the evil universe, but it’s always been the goofy, cartoony vision of evil. The Mirror Universe is supposed to be Star Trek at its campiest. It’s a silly “what if” with no consequences. It’s just for fun.

Discovery’s grim tone sucks all of the fun out of the Mirror Universe. Its lost its all its colour and personality.

Cadet Tilly's Mirror Universe counterpart, "Captain Killy"But the problems don’t stop there. “Despite Yourself” is a great summation of everything wrong with Discovery.

First, we got plot holes. Of course we have plot holes. It wouldn’t be Discovery without them. Sure, Stamets can’t run the spore drive in his current condition, but what’s stopping them just bio-engineering someone else to pilot it? Yeah, there’d be risks, but is it any less risky than going deep cover in an empire you know next to nothing about?

And why didn’t Discovery just transmit its findings on the cloak to Starfleet? And why is Tyler still on duty despite his obvious mental instability?

Next, we’ve got Discovery continuing to treat its non-white crew members as expendable. This show started with a great diverse cast, but at the current rate it’ll soon just be Burnham lost in a sea of white people. Nice infinite diversity you got there, Discovery.

The next issue is a big one, and it’s a spoiler, so if you haven’t seen the episode yet, you may want to skip the rest of this review. Though at this point you can hardly call it a surprise.

This is a dummy paragraph to give you time to leave if you don’t want to be spoiled.

Okay? Okay.

The titular ship in Star Trek: DiscoverySo, yeah, Tyler’s a Klingon.

Damn it.

Let’s enumerate all the ways this is a terrible idea, shall we?

Well, first, it completely ruins all of Tyler’s character development to date. He was one of Discovery’s more layered and compelling characters, but now he’s just a villain with some screws loose. Either he gets killed off later, or he gets somehow redeemed and goes back to being a part of Discovery‘s crew, which would make no sense on any level. Either way, it’s a waste.

Also, his seeming sexual abuse at L’Rell’s hands is now revealed to be a lie (albeit a lie he himself believed for a time). Considering how actual victims of sexual assault are continually doubted and accused of lying, this is a deeply problematic decision, and breathtakingly tone-deaf in the current climate. It’s stupid, it’s insensitive, and anyone with half a brain should know better.

And oh, yeah, let’s not forget that the only character of South Asian descent has turned out to be a sinister sleeper agent from a violent religious sect. I’m sure that kind of narrow-minded stereotyping is exactly what Roddenberry had in mind.

Frack me.

Sonequa Martin-Green as Commander Michael Burnham on Star Trek: DiscoveryAs for good news? Well, there isn’t much.

Tilly is still a delight. She is the only one evoking some of the traditional lightheartedness of the Mirror Universe as she attempts to impersonate her ruthless counterpart, “Captain Killy.”

Also, the art design continues to be impeccable. Those Mirror uniforms are sexy as all hell. CraveTV has improved its video quality since last I used the service, too, so I can now appreciate Discovery’s sumptuous visuals without it looking like I’m viewing the show through a thick fog. That’s nice.

I am a little curious who the “faceless emperor” turns out to be. It’s kind of reminding me of the Imperial stories in SWTOR, actually. Wouldn’t it be fun if it turned out Valkorion was leading the Terran Empire? I’d feel much better about this arc if that turned out to be the case.

I really wouldn’t past the slimy bastard, honestly. What are the barriers between realities (and sci-fi franchises) to one such as he?

Someone needs to write a fan fic of that. Should include Burnham shouting “KNEEL BEFORE THE DRAGON OF ZAKUUL” at least once.

Ahem, anyway…

The Mirror version of the Disovery (or reasonable facsimile thereof) in Star Trek: Discovery.In the end this is a very disappointing episode. I’m really starting to think Discovery’s writers just don’t understand anything about what Star Trek is supposed to be, and if I hadn’t just paid money to watch the rest of the season, this might have been the final straw for me.

Overall rating: 4/10 It seemed okay while I was watching, but the more I think about it, the less I like it.

I really wish they hadn’t cancelled the DLC for Andromeda.