I would imagine that the viewer who didn’t see this reveal coming might’ve appreciated this finale more than I did, but I can’t help but wonder if combining the episode “Su’Kal” with the character’s story from this week would’ve worked better as the final episode of the season. The answer to the season-long mystery combined with the emotional impact of the truth are quite effective, but they are unnecessarily spread out among the other, less compelling story thread that closes the season.
That would be the siege of the Discovery by the Emerald Chain, the show’s new group of villains who were, in the end, just not that interesting a threat. Indeed, it was in last week’s episode, “There Is a Tide…,” that Janet Kidder’s Osyraa finally became more than just a mustache-twirling baddie, as she came to Admiral Vance (Oded Fehr) with an offer of peace. The reasons for that treaty not being realized — she wouldn’t stand trial for her crimes — made sense, but unfortunately at that point she reverted to the manual manipulation of said mustache. And that led to a lot of running and gunning and running out of oxygen for the Disco crew this week. In the end, when Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) shoots Osyraa after their big fight, it almost seems too easy, like the Orion is going to come back ala Jason Voorhees or somebody. But nope, she’s gone, and you kind of forget about her just like that. (The show’s writers seem to feel the same way, with a throwaway line at the end here that “the Chain fractured,” indicating they were a one-and-done threat.)
The action stuff during Osyraa’s takeover of the Disco is all well done, of course, but it overshadows some of the more interesting twists from last week’s cliffhanger that needed more play here. For one thing, the DOT-23 drones that showed up to help the Disco crew last time around — inhabited by the Sphere data as they were — were kind of a non-issue in this episode. And Stamets (Anthony Rapp), ejected from the ship by Burnham to keep him from saving his husband (she had her reasons!) last week, keeps getting sidelined during this episode. Rapp is skilled enough to be able to convey his feelings of betrayal with a couple of glances, but a real scene between Michael and Paul would’ve been nice.
In the end, Burnham has saved the Federation, solved the riddle of The Burn, and finally taken the captain’s seat (and let’s face it, God love him but Saru was a bad captain). But what did this season of Star Trek really tell us about the loss of hope, the dissolution of our dreams? Michael’s refusal to take no for an answer is all well and good, but right now things seem worse than ever in the real world, while all Discovery’s problems were solved in 13 episodes flat. It remains to be seen where the show will go next, but hopefully its writers will find a way to mine the less than ideal 32nd century concept further in Season 4.
Questions and Notes from the Q Continuum:
- I guess Blu del Barrio’s Adira and Ian Alexander’s Gray will be back next season, since the mystery of Gray’s return remains unsolved.
- Book (David Ajala) apparently is also sticking around, and Stamets might want to watch his back now that there’s a new spore drive pilot in town.
- Aditya Sahil (Adil Hussain) finally showed up again, and he’s got a Starfleet uniform and everything now!
- Who’s this Lieutenant Ina (Avaah Blackwell) character who suddenly became so prominent the past few episodes? It sure seemed like she was filling the role Sara Mitich’s Nilsson usually would have, particularly when she was on the run with Detmer and company. Maybe Mitich was unavailable to shoot for a few days and they had to sub in someone?
- A few weeks ago I guessed that the ghost-like creatures haunting Su’Kal were what was left of his crew after decades of radiation exposure. Seems I didn’t get everything right on this one…
- Why does Adira get one of the fancy new Starfleet uniforms but Book doesn’t? Neither one was a member of Starfleet when this season began.
- Is Zora/the Sphere data now going to just live in that cute little robot?
- And that’s it: After a year-plus of Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Lower Decks, and Star Trek: Discovery, we’re fresh out of new Trek episodes… for now, anyway!