Season one in its entirety is now on the US on CBS All Access and in the UK on Netflix
Written by: Akiva Goldsman, Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts
Director: Akivia Goldsman
More spoilers than a Delta Flyer
It’s safe to say that just about everyone was expecting a significant cliffhanger to bring the first season of Star Trek: Discovery to an end…especially since in last week’s episode we learnt of the plan to actually infiltrate the surface of Qo’noS.
Written and directed by Akiva Goldsman, who also directed episode 3 “Context is for Kings“, what we got instead fell a little flat. More like an episode’s worth of epilogue with a few buckets of emotional gaffaw thrown in.
We begin where we left off last week, Emperor Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) has assumed the identity of Captain Georgiou and been reintroduced to the crew by Admiral Cornwell (Jayne Brook) claiming she wasn’t actually killed after all. In exchange for information about how to destroy the Klingon threat to Earth, Georgiou will be granted freedom.
Consequently, only a few key members of the crew know who she really is…and she’s not doing a very good job of acting like a Starfleet captain.
So, the plan, in a broad stroke, is to take the Discovery into a subterranean cave of a dormant volcano on the Klingon homeworld of Qo’noS by way of the Displacement Activated Spore Hub drive, to use its full name. Putting the sheer absurdity of this terrible plan aside for a moment, there is a great throwaway line from Georgiou while she’s barking orders from the bridge as she continues her
hilarious distasteful cannibalistic Kelpien humour.
“Are you sacred Number One?” She asks. “Where I’m from we have a saying, scared Kelpien makes for tough Kelpien. Have you got any tougher since we served together on the Shenzou, Mr Saru?”
Not 100 percent happy with the plan, Georgiou goes to speak to L’Rell (Mary Chieffo) who’s still in the brig. Naturally, the captive Klingon doesn’t give Georgiou anything to work with, so instead the captain jumps in the cell and proceeds to kick the crap out of her.
Since that delicate approach didn’t work, her next plan is to speak to Tylervoq (Shazad Latif) and see if he can help. The Klingon/human hybrid does indeed offer up the best info for their plan of attack and Georgiou selects him for the away team…as well as Cadet Tilly (Mary Wiseman). Why, oh why she selects the least qualified member of Discovery’s crew to participate in an incredibly dangerous away mission to the Klingon homeworld is…nothing short of bewildering. The lame excuse given is that Georgiou has a soft spot for the Mirror Universe Tilly, who was captain of the ISS Discovery.
So, we come to certainly the highlight of this episode and also one of the nicer bits of the series – Qo’noS. Imagine what Farscape wanted to do – and could’ve done if it had the $8million per episode budget of this series – every time Crichton, Aeryn and D’Argo went down to the surface of some planet that was a lawless, backwater world that served as a trading hub for smugglers, scoundrels, pirates and plunderers and so on.
Imagine Blade Runner at street level meets Fenway Park from Fallout 4. It’s a labyrinth of shabby-looking market stalls and ramshackle iron huts. Huge clouds of steam erupt from giant woks and a thousand different smells fill the air. Countless boxes crammed with weird foods are piled high and aliens everywhere are haggling over prices. Was that also a sautéed Ceti eel we saw..?
The away team have avoided the First City of Qo’noS, for obvious reasons and have instead arrived at a dead end shanty town that’s been built near the ruins of an old temple, where they hope to find information about said ruins and therefore also access to some abandoned underground cave network where they can launch a reconnaissance drone to covertly map other, bigger military targets for Starfleet to attack.
Leather is the disguise of choice and it’s always nice to see always nice to see both Yeoh and Martin-Green back in the material they carry off so well.
The team splits up and does their own thing as they attempt to infiltrate gambling dens, bars and other seedy hang outs. Tilly gets stoned with Clint Howard – always nice to an old Trek Alumni, Georgiou indulges her carnal cravings, even teaching the hookers on Qo’noS a thing or two and Tylervoq taps into his inner Klingon in a gambling game as Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) looks on.
Tilly wakes up after having passed out and she checks her Peli case to make sure she hasn’t lost the drone – how it wasn’t stolen from her while she was out cold only Kahless knows – to discover it isn’t a drone after all, but a bomb. So she lucks out for a) not having had it stolen and b) for discovering early on that it was in fact a bomb. Chances are however, they would’ve found out, you know when they actually opened it to check the drone before they just handed it over to Georgiou. Anyway.
Georgiou it seems was under different orders from Cornwell and she was instructed to drop a bomb into the cave network – not a drone – that would start a chain reaction of volcanic activity, ultimately decimating the surface of Qo’noS.
What follows is a lot of monologuing about the principals of Starfleet as Martin-Green gives another tear-jerking, I’d-like-to-thank-the-Academy speech about how important it is to uphold the beliefs of the Federation even against all odds. She convinces Cornwell to chage the plan and they give the bomb detonator to L’Rell, who in turn address the Klingon council and says the Empire must unite…otherwise total destruction is the alternative, waving the detonator about – which she could actually set off.
So, that about wraps it up then. Georgiou is given her freedom, so no doubt we’ll bump into her again. Tylervoq says goodbye to Burnham and goes off to help L’Rell, so no doubt we’ll bump into him again. Burnham is reinstated at Starfleet, all sins forgiven. And the rest of the crew receive medals at Starfleet, Paris branch.
Finally, Sarek hops onboard the Discovery as they go to drop him off on Vulcan and simultaneously pick up the new captain of the USS Discovery. Stamets (Anthony Rapp) offers us some lame, 10 second exposition about how Starfleet are working to develop a non-human interface for the DASH drive and away they go, via warp speed instead.
But…along the way…they pick up a distress signal…from…from…
…the USS Enterprise. Yup. You read that right. Under the command of Captain Christopher Pike. We see the two ships rendezvous and then…season one ends.
As one reviewer put it, “the ultimate cheap shot in a desperate attempt to get fans to stick around for another season and the hallmark of a show that knows it failed to build something interesting on its own merit.” No argument here.
Christopher Pike (played by Jeffrey Hunter) was captain of the USS Enterprise before James Kirk (William Shatner), however Pike’s science officer was Mr Spock (Leonard Nimoy). Star Trek: Discovery is set in 2256 and two years prior, in 2254, the USS Enterprise under Pike’s command was tricked into travelling to Talos IV under the pretense of a rescue mission. This story formed the very first pilot of Star Trek: The Original Series in 1966 and was called “The Cage”.
When they get to the planet where the message was sent from however, crew discover that the supposed survivors were nothing more than illusions created by the inhabitants of the planet, for the purpose of capturing a mate for the one genuine surviving human and Captain Pike is the lucky winner. He’s experimented on and tested by the aliens with huge, pulsating heads – which gives them extraordinary powers of telepathic-induced reality – while his crew try to find a way to rescue him.
The footage from this pilot was later – and very cleverly – reused for a new, two-part story called “The Menagerie” where we learn that Pike has been crippled by a very serious accident aboard a starship some 10 years after the events of “the Cage”. Spock hijacks the Enterprise in order to fulfil Pike’s last request that he be taken back to Talos IV, so he may live out the rest of his years as happily as he possibly can be, in a Matrix-like state of mind, without the burden of his damaged body.
So that’s the backstory there.
But this ending leads to all sorts of potential canon issues. The uniforms in the Pike era were significantly different, no explaining away that. What happens to the DASH drive? It has to be removed from Star Trek history at some point, or at the very least, stored in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.” Then there’s the USS Enterprise, which from the angle we saw looks far more like the NCC 1701 refit, than the Pike era variant.
And guess who’s also on that Enterprise – Science Officer Spock. Sarek’s son…therefore Burnham’s brother. And that’s why they should never have used Sarek.
Season two won’t be anywhere near as rushed as season one, that much is certain. So, fingers crossed, CBS will put more time into the actual stories and worry less about rushing something out because they should have done all of this two years ago.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, executive producer Alex Kurtzman was asked about the fate of Tylervoq.
“Season one was about the Klingons and the Federation at a time of war,” Kurtzman explained. “Season two will not be about that.
“We want to move on. Tyler/Voq has had a major evolution over the course of the season, and we love Shazad. He’s capable of absolutely everything we throw at him, and we have great plans for his character in season 2.”
So, we know he’s coming back.
• The whole backwater shanty town on Qo’noS was nice
• Clint Howard, bless
Flash Flash ✗
• We are Starfleet, bum ba dum bum bum bum bum (you have to be living in the US to appreciate that)
• Why pick a liability like Tilly for a hardcore away mission – she could’ve so easily have lost the bomb/drone
• The Enterprise? Really? Was really hoping Discovery wouldn’t go there
• So, like Mudd, Georgiou’s going to pop up again, that much is certain
• The Klingons are thisclose to attacking Earth, but then get persuaded not to: war over!
• What does Saru have to do to become captain?!
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