a review by the Crow.
Captain‘s log, Stardate 96897.82: In this, the season finale of Star Trek: Discovery, we have much to discuss. In light of that notion, let’s not waste any time and raise our shields, as we prepare for battle in:
Such Sweet Sorrow Part 2
SPOILER LEVELS at MAJOR
I have made no secret of how subpar I felt the first part of Such Sweet Sorrow was. While that episode led me to walk into its immediate successor with much lowered expectations, Part 2 is almost instantly better. The centrepiece of the episode is the battle we were promised, and since it takes up a good four-fifths of the episode, I’m going to get my specific thoughts on the battle out of the way first.
The battle exists (on a visual, and a “philosophical” sense) rather far away from Star Trek‘s usual fare. Given the ridiculous number of drones and proxy craft that appear on screen, one might easily mistake any shots not featuring the Federation starships as belonging to Battlestar Galactica. Despite Number One (Rebecca Romijn)’s throwaway line in the previous episode, I contest that these ships simply cannot — and do not — carry such a vast complement of proxy vessels/shuttlecraft as we’ve known them. To add to that: while I thought the scene was fun, I’m not so sure how I feel about their existence. They make perfect sense, but their very presence raises questions about certain significant events in the Star Trek lore as we know it (and that’s only naming one). The Section 31 ships, on the other hand, may well be allowed that trump card.
However, the capital ships featured in this episode barely move — unlike what has been happening in earlier episodes of Discovery, or the nu-Trek movies. And this is how starships should fight. These are ships armed with planet-ending weaponry and shields that are powered by plot convenience. They have no business zipping around in the heat of battle. (The phasers employed by the Enterprise a nice throwback.)
All the hallmarks are here: the exploding consoles, the brick-and-mortar in the walls, the complete unemployment of Occam’s razor or lines that invalidate it. This is Star Trek violence at its most unashamed. And it works — for most of what we see inside the ships. The external shots, on the other hand, crammed as full of debris and drone ships as they are, are a little visually messy, and can grow a little annoying to some, while looking visually stunning to most.
The action cuts between the Discovery and the Enterprise, all while Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), and what looks to be half the named cast rush to complete a second Red Angel suit. Stamets (Anthony Rapp), Nhan (Rachael Ancheril), Nillson (Sara Mitich), Tilly (Mary Wiseman), and even Spock (Ethan Peck, bearded) are amongst the crowd of people swarming Engineering while Reno (Tig Notaro) oversees the charging of the time crystal. The scenes surrounding the construction of the suit itself annoy me a tiny bit, but they are what they are, and won’t be affecting my score or my feelings about the episode. It’s a rather standard “slap things together” scene as far as Star Trek is concerned.
Her Serene Highness Me Hani Ika Hali Ka Po (Yadira Guevara-Prip) also enters the fray, with some formidable Treknobabble to clear a path for herself with. The strange Willy Wonka interiors of the Discovery are explored again. Doctor Pollard (Raven Dauda) employs her formidable snark once again. The Klingons — as expected — return, led by L’Rell (Mary Chieffo) and Tyler/Voq (Shazad Latif) powered by a Cleave ship and the “new” D-7, with a complement of Ba’ul ships led by Siranna (Hannah Spear). This second part of Such Sweet Sorrow makes no excuses for throwing everything from Season 2 at the screen in one final effort to deliver an ending worthy of a Star Trek series.
A secondary aspect of the battle emerges when our “AI sausage” (“ew”) Leland (Alan Van Sprang) transports aboard the Discovery. Of course, the premonition Burnham had in the previous episode doesn’t come to pass, but a long, drawn-out fistfight between Leland, Nhan, and Her most Imperial Majesty, Mother of the Fatherland, Overlord of Vulcan, Dominus of Qon’oS, Regina Andor, Emperor Philippa Georgiou Augustus Iaponius Centarius (Michelle Yeoh — sometimes, I can’t help myself) is triggered. Featuring a callback to Inception (which I shall one day review), the fight’s rather well-constructed, but could’ve done with a little tighter editing. This specific fistfight also showcases the only example of bad dialogue this episode suffers from, but it’s not anywhere close to as bad as the dialogue Discovery has showcased in the past. It’s a decent sequence, however. After all, whenever Emperor Georgiou is given the space to bite, I am left pleased.
And does she ever bite in this episode.
The subplot featuring the “promised photon torpedo” suffers from another case of bad writing, but it saves itself in the end. The subplot is set-up decently, worked through poorly (see above: lack of Occam’s razor or lines which invalidate the razor’s use), and raises far too many questions. Admiral Cornwell (Jayne Brook) sacrifices herself to save the Enterprise, leaving Captain Pike (Anson Mount) and Number One (also known as Noona) to finish the fight. The blast takes out a quarter of the saucer section, and would all but spell a miserable end for our heroes — but it’s in this grim moment that the true hero of the feature is revealed.
And that hero is: the blast door that protects Pike. Forget shields, forget torpedoes. Whatever that blast door is made out of needs to be weaponised stat.
The Red Angel suit fails to work as originally planned, and Spock comes up with a solution. This is where the show takes a stark turn. The effects surrounding the “wormhole” are an interesting choice. It starts out well enough, but as Burnham passes through the show cuts away the entire third spatial dimension to better illustrate the “hole” aspect of the wormhole. It’s not a choice that works for me. Interstellar has already achieved this visual in a much better manner, and while Discovery‘s method is interesting, I’d have preferred to stick with a 3D visual.
Thereafter, the show takes a few interesting leaps. The time travel effects are not something I’m going to complain about, since the effort that’s gone into the design ethic is decent. The whole thing is a definitive visual nod to Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and works fine as an update to what they’d attempted back in 1979. Burnham goes back through the signals as they appeared in the show, meeting herself and Saru during the process.
And to talk about the visuals a little more, while the external shots of the battle are messy at most times, there is a tracking shot of Burnham and Spock exiting the Discovery which ranks “up there” with some of the better visuals of Star Trek as a whole. What’s on-screen here is definitely more movie-level than TV show level. It’d been reported that Discovery had gone massively over-budget. It shows, here.
And now, to finish up: What makes me happiest about Such Sweet Sorrow Part 2 is the weight of the (forgive the following word) cojones it carries with it in its final moments. It does boldly go where the central crew of a Star Trek show hasn’t gone — and stayed — before. Leland’s final “disintegration” is a little bit of a letdown, especially since I had an inkling that the spores might have a direct effect on him.
But do we care? I think the leap that the Discovery takes is all that counts any longer. The Red Angel guides the Discovery through a new wormhole to a point that should be further in the future than we’ve seen Star Trek so far. Spock is left behind and takes up his station aboard the Enterprise as he should. The manner in which the Discovery is “written out” of the timeline (by lies and censorship) is a little… ill-driven, but what we are left with is a literal universe of ideas from which Season 3 can pick up. I liked the touch about the seventh signal, and Spock’s final lines with Burnham, even though I’m a little confused how they got away with it during a battle as heated as the one on screen.
Saru (Doug Jones), Owosekun (Oyin Oladejo), Detmer (Emily Coutts), Bryce (Ronnie Rowe), and Rhys (Patrick Kwok-Choon) all perform admirably, as do the Enterprise crew. Culber (Wilson Cruz) returns “home”, and the Discovery takes the Sphere Data, Leland/Control’s leftover sausage, the Red Angel suit, and the former Terran Emperor into the future, where we’re only left to speculate what might happen. There’s something about the scene where the Discovery is making good its escape before Control can rally a new plan which strikes me as emotionally moving — which is not something I’ve typically felt from Discovery.
I cannot pick any performance as worse than the other, and would like to think that the final scenes of the Discovery serve as a form of a promise to the audience that the show will attempt a return to better form. It tries to be unapologetically Star Trek, and it does so to a good degree.
With a soft-reboot coming to Star Trek as we’re getting to know it in this new era, Such Sweet Sorrow Part 2 comes highly recommended by both of us at The Corvid Review. I don’t believe anyone would be opposed to a Pike/Spock Enterprise show, but I also know it’s not something that’s on the cards at the moment. I would much like it if the team (or teams) behind Discovery could get their business together and deliver a good third season. There is much promise here — I’ve said that for a long time, what we need is a better direction. One thing;s for sure: they’ve done a good job with this finale. Whether or not the show’s own leap of faith pays off, we’ll just have to wait and see.
— Crow out.
THE CROW: 6.5/10
THE AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE: 10/10
THE SPOTTED NUTCRACKER: 10/10
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- Star Trek: The Next Generation — S05E25: The Inner Light
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine — S05E06: Trials and Tribble-ations
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E01: The Vulcan Hello & Battle at the Binary Stars
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E02: Context is For Kings
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E03: The Butcher’s Knife Cares Not for the Lamb’s Cry
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E04: Choose Your Pain
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E05: Lethe
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E06: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E07: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E08: Into the Forest I Go
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E09: Despite Yourself
- Star Trek: Discovery — S01E10: The Wolf Inside
- Star Trek: Discovery — Episodes 11 — 15 Round Up
- Star Trek: Discovery — Short Treks
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E01: Brother
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E02: New Eden
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E03: Point of Light
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E04: An Obol for Charon
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E05: Saints of Imperfection
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E06: The Sound of Thunder
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E07: Light and Shadows
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E08: If Memory Serves
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E09: Project Daedalus
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E10: The Red Angel
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E11: Perpetual Infinity
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E12: Through the Valley of Shadows
- Star Trek: Discovery — S02E13: Such Sweet Sorrow
- Star Trek: The Motion Picture
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
- Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
- Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
- Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
- Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
- Star Trek: Generations
- Star Trek: First Contact
- Star Trek: Insurrection
- Star Trek: Nemesis
- Star Trek (2009)
- Star Trek Into Darkness
- Star Trek Beyond