Discovery had a rough start and received a mixed (and not consistently fair) welcome. It developed and, by Season Three, had a new premise that frequently worked. Season Four has featured some strong episodes, but permitted a poorly-handled, derivative story arc to hamper the show. The most recent season came to a conclusion. With one more season than the original series, Discovery still struggles with finding its identity.
Having just reviewed most of the season last week, I’m eschewing our full formal review for the final episode. Instead, I have some thoughts that will hopefully inspire discussion.
After an eleventh-hour problem prevented the previous episode from bringing the season to a tidy conclusion, our heroes save the day in what seems like the first half of the episode. What follows is the equivalent of one of those whimsical epilogues that marked earlier incarnations of Trek, dragged into a happy ending (with a few moments to recall the millions of deaths caused in earlier episodes) that seems to go on forever.
Tilly returns with the cadets, and real-life Georgia politician and Trek fan Stacey Abrams makes a cameo.
The acting is generally strong. Sonequa Martin-Green gets a powerful and difficult moment, where she must move ahead despite personal tragedy. Doug Jones continues to give a credible performance as an alien of the Star Trek variety, different from us but human enough to be entirely relatable.
The show led to the forthcoming Strange New Worlds, and I have high hopes for that. They certainly have a solid cast. I hope they’ll be respectful of reasonable fan expectations.
Apart from the pacing (and I concede that some people will enjoy the extended epilogue, which I found overly indulgent), we have a number of issues. I like Book, but the undoing of his noble sacrifice felt like bad writing, forced by the desire of higher-ups to use the character again in the future.
Why did no one think to use Vulcan (or other species) telepathy several episodes ago? “Devil in the Dark” tried that one as soon as it was reasonable to do so.
This season started out pretty well, and then a few episodes before the end proceeded at maximum warp to the Predictable Cliche Galaxy.
I enjoyed the finale, though I agree it would have been a lot stronger had the god-like aliens not saved Book, and the show had let him die, but I also decided that Picard wasn’t originally meant to survive his first season and that Trek just can’t let anyone die.
As for why, I don’t think anyone else could have delivered his demands to the Ten-C in a convincing manner. The needed him to be the one to say all that, so that the good guys could get the “big win” for the season.
However I also was having trouble thinking that a civilization would upend their entire fuel industry on the word of one visiting primitive species. I picture a native group addressing the UN, says that an oil spill wiped out their village, and the full UN immediately bans the use of all fossil fuels, effective immediately, with all travel coming to a stop, all flights cancelled, and so forth.
(The alternative impression I went with was that the Ten-C really didn’t need this fuel, so it was the equivalent of one person on an office floor screaming and whining for ten minutes at a meeting about how your desk fan was causing their power to go out and ruined their computer and they’d lost weeks and weeks of work, so you just say “Fine, whatever” and unplug it.)
It did seem a bit “staged” to succeed with the 10C so quickly. I’m willing to accept that conceit, however, in the interest of a story that doesn’t drag on for ages. Attention span and all. But I don’t think it was nearly as unearned as it seems on the surface.
That fuel was for their “We’re hiding from the universe” field, not necessarily their entire civilization. And it’s not clear from the very narrow glimpse of the 10C we have that they don’t have some alternative method of mining that is safer, or technology using a different power source. I mean, how often do *we* have a cleaner or safer way of doing things and just don’t use it because it’s easier or cheaper to do something else?