Jett Reno returns!
Discovery‘s season finale takes place later this week. We’ve watched some of the strongest moments in recent episodes, and also a few significant stumbles. The last two seasons have been the show Discovery should have been from the start, but the current arc has proved a positive and a negative, for reasons I shall opine on below.
We hope to hear your opinions, too. With the exception of Enterprise, few Trek series have divided fans more.
Titles: “Rubicon,” “The Galactic Barrier,” “Rosetta,” “Species Ten-C”
Directed by Andi Armaganian, Deborah Kampmeier, Jeff Byrd & Jen McGowan, Olatunde Osunsanmi
Written by Alan McElroy, Anne Cofell Saunders, Terri Hughes Burton, Kyle Jarrow
Sonequa Martin-Green as Captain Michael Burnham
Doug Jones as Commander Saru
David Ajala as Cleveland “Book” Booker
Shawn Doyle as Ruon Tarka
Anthony Rapp as Commander Paul Stamets
Wilson Cruz as Dr. Hugh Culber
Bill Irwin as Su’Kal
Blu del Barrio as Adira
Ian Alexander as Gray Tal
Oyin Oladejo as Lt. Joann Owosekun
Tig Notaro as Jett Reno
Hiro Kanagawa as Dr. Hirai
David Cronenberg as Kovich
Emily Coutts as Lt. Keyla Detmer
Raven Dauda as Dr. Tracy Pollard
Rachael Ancheril as Cmdr. Nhan
Patrick Kwok-Choon as Lt. Gen Rhys
Sara Mitich as Lt. Nilsson
Chelah Horsdal as President Laira Rillak
Tara Rosling as T’Rina
Orville Cummings as Lt. Christopher
Hannah Cheesman as Lt. Cmdr. Airiam
Ronnie Rowe as Lt. Cmdr. R.A. Bryce
David Benjamin Tomlinson as Lt. Linus
Oded Fehr as Admiral Charles Vance
Osric Chau as Oros
Phumzile Sitole as Capt. Ndoye
Annabelle Wallis as Zora (voice)
While Discovery and the recently-reborn Federation deal with a threat from beyond the Galactic Barrier by attempting first contact, Book joins forces with a scientist with dubious motives to launch an attack. Naturally, the fate of earth, specifically, rests in the balance.
Against this backdrop, several characters enter relationships which often play as a little too CW.
Zora becomes a character in her own right.
Jett reappears, gets kidnapped, and eats licorice.
“Rubicon” does an excellent job of showing what more Away Missions should look like. Our space-suited crew visit a truly alien planet (with some echoes of Alien) and face the unknown.
“Rubicon” and several of the other episodes include actual problem-solving, occasionally obstructed by the handwavium science.
While I am critical about the way they have handled relationships and how often their approach slogs down the story, I give them full credit for the way “The Galactic Barrier” develop Tarka’s backstory. We have a relationship that feels real, with excellent interplay between the flashback and “present-tense” plots. If you’re going to give us a relationship story, do it in a way that feels meaningful and convincing, rather than tacked-on and intrusive. “The Galactic Barrier” works so well that I can overlook their use of the concept, inherited from the original series, of a mysterious energy barrier hovering at a precise edge of the galaxy.
The basic problem lies with the pacing. We have a record number of character for a Trek episode, at exactly the same time they want to explore the feelings and relationships of every single person on the ship. The problem is that this isn’t Game of Thrones, and the writers and actors aren’t up to making it that. As a result, the last several episodes often feel less like a developed story arc and more like a Trek film premise stretched over an entire season.
Originality: 2/6 The arc develops in its own interesting manner, but it feels a little like “Devil in the Dark” on steroids and stimulants.
Acting: 5/6 You know, Cronenberg (one of my favorite directors) as Kovich has proved fascinating. I’m curious about his character, though I’m not certain we should ever learn too much about him.
It might have worked better if Dr. Hirai (Hiro Kanagawa) had come around in a way that developed naturally, instead of being ordered to come around. Still, if you saw someone in your command cluelessly being kind of a dick to people, you would mention it to them.
Emotional Response: 4/6
Story: 4/6: It’s a good story, bogged down by a pace which does not work for this show. The strongest episodes, while part of the larger arc, feature a definite plot. Star Trek in all its incarnations has worked best when it has clean narrative lines.
Overall: 4/6 The Federation apparently lost a lot of records, because they keep discussing how much Species 10-C resembles nothing they’ve ever encountered before. That seems to be true of the reconstituted Federation, so dominated by humanoids that applause is universal. It is not true of Trek’s long history, where they’ve encountered a number of anomalous and often very powerful species.
In total, the Star Trek: Discovery, “Rubicon,” “The Galactic Barrier,” “Rosetta,” and “Species 10-C” receive 30/42
Obligatory Terrible Joke
It’s worth watching as this incarnation of Star Trek discovers its true nature in an extended story arc, but we have too little of the 10-C and too much of the things we do for love.