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


Review: Star Trek: Discovery, “The War Without, the War Within”

After last week’s refreshingly fun episode, we’re back to Discovery’s old tricks.

The official logo for Star Trek: DiscoveryLast week’s ominous statement that the war with the Klingons is over turns out to be yet another attempt at cheap shock value. “The War Without, the War Within” quickly establishes that the war is not, in fact, anywhere near over in any sense of the term. It’s not going great, but most of the Federation still stands.

As “Tyler” recovers from the loss of Voq’s personality, Starfleet’s leadership utilizes the expertise of Emperor Georgiou to plan a daring scheme that could win the war… at the cost of everything the Federation stands for.

Okay, so first we need to talk about Tyler again.

I am running out of ways to describe how monumentally, irredeemably awful this story arc is. It’s just… so… stupid.

Firstly, let’s discuss the fact that he is effectively Ash Tyler now. That makes no sense. None. At all.

Firstly, if one of the personalities had to be removed, it makes no sense for L’Rell to have chosen Tyler. It doesn’t make tactical sense, and it doesn’t make personal sense. There is no way in Sto-vo-kor a Klingon fanatic would doom the man she loves to what amounts to a dishonourable death just to save the stolen consciousness of a dead man from a species she despises.

Sonequa Martin-Green as Commander Michael Burnham on Star Trek: DiscoveryIf we’re to assume that Tyler’s personality was the stronger, that also makes no sense. No matter how he looks, the man on Discovery is Voq. Why would the stolen memories he laid over his own mind be stronger?

It would also be ethically unpardonable to have extinguished Voq’s real self to save the false personality… if anyone cared about Voq, that is. But of course Discovery’s Klingons are just soulless monsters, so I guess that doesn’t matter.

The only way this makes sense is if this is just a long con from L’Rell, and Voq isn’t really gone. But having him go bad again would be pretty damn repetitive, so that’s not exactly an ideal solution either.

And then it just gets dumber from there. For no good reason, the crew of the Discovery lets him — a known enemy agent — have the run of the ship, and immediately welcomes him back as if he was an old friend.

Let me remind you: Ash Tyler is dead. The man on Discovery is a hostile alien with the broken memories stolen from a dead man. The story and characters treat him as if he was Tyler who was temporarily taken over by Voq’s personality, despite the fact the exact opposite has been explicitly stated to be the case.

And I freely grant that there is a reasonable chance that Tyler is no longer a threat. But no one in their right mind would take that chance in a time of war.

A Klingon in Star Trek: DiscoveryFor my part, any little sympathy I might have felt for him evaporated when I saw his treatment of Burnham. I actually missed some of the dialogue because I was too busy yelling at the screen.

I don’t recall any other TV show making me so mad I yelled at the screen before. Congrats, Discovery.

So at this point I’m not sure it matters if Tyler’s really a Klingon or not. Either way, he’s an asshole.

Meanwhile, the moral conundrum of the main plot also falls flat. It would be a great dilemma if we were still dealing with the Klingons of The Next Generation or any other modern Star Trek, but Discovery has consistently shown the Klingons to be, again, soulless monsters with no redeeming qualities. I don’t think anything you do to them would be unethical.

I mean, if it’s okay to murder Voq, I don’t see how anything can’t be justified.

Michelle Yeoh is still awesome. That’s the best I can do as far as silver linings go.

Overall rating: 3/10