Star Trek: Discovery has its fans and its haters. The haters are usually the older fans who refuse to allow the series to evolve both in the way it tells stories and the way it visually represents the future while the fans are just happy that the series is telling quality stories again and bringing in new generations of fans into the fold, which the series has been incapable of doing for years until the Star Trek reboot movies.
The first season of Discovery was somewhat hit or miss (though more hit than miss), with its darker undertones, somewhat predictable twists, and some genuinely head-scratching choices as far as design and characterization, but it was definitely the strongest Freshmen season of any Star Trek show with the possible exception of the original series. This was a show that knew what it wanted to be and never wavered.
With the second season, Discovery both solidified its position and reconciled with its roots delivering a truly remarkable 14 episode run that rivals or surpasses every bit of Star Trek that came before. With the second season, Discovery is undergoing a genuine Renaissance in quality that is visually appealing and tells stories that are engaging. The arch that this story told was mysterious, entrancing, and wrapped up in a satisfying way. Which is really all you can ask for.
The main character of the show is Michael Burnham, a young woman who was taken in by the Sarek family after her parents were killed by Klingons making her Spock’s older sister which is odd because Spock had never mentioned an older sister before. This season, rather than the tenuious relationship between Micheal, Sarek, and Amanda, the producers actually brought in Spock and explored the rocky relationship between the two siblings.
Now, it’s always a risk to recast a character who is so beloved by a fanbase, but Ethan Peck did Leonard Nimoy proud with a portrayal of Spock that was true to the original and yet, unsure of himself and his place in the universe. Peck portrayed a Spock that could best me described as proto-Spock, Spock before Spock, a lost young man who was like the Spock we know and yet different… an iconic character who was yet to be completed. This brought out a vulnerability in his character, a sympathetic flaw that anyone could identify with. This Spock was lost, but then found and built up on his way to the Spock we remember.
One cannot praise Ethan Peck’s Spock without mentioning Anson Mount’s Captain Pike who served as Discovery‘s captain this season and probably elevated much of the series on his own. Mount was a godsend, a character so pure and so ideal to the core beliefs in Starfleet that he single-handedly washed away the corruption of Captain Lorca after one episode.
The appeal of Captain Pike was not just in Mount’s portrayal of him, but also in the way he was written. He was a gentle touch with the crew, extremely likable, and, most importantly, probably one of the most selfless captains we’ve ever seen… ever! The scene in “Through the Valley of Shadows” in which Pike is shown his fate and told that, if he took a time crystal that fate would be inescapable, was Pike’s golden moment, a moment of sacrifice and honor, seeing disaster and doing the right thing anyway.
The scene where he leaves Discovery and the crew says goodbye was well deserved and beautiful.
Then again, there was a lot of beauty this season…. visually, the effects were outstanding taking us to strange new worlds and seeing new civilizations. The Enterprise reinterpretation was a true beauty and this is one of the few times I’ve ever seen the size of the ships translated on the screen so easily and effectively. You really got the sense that the Discovery and Enterprise were actual large ships and I can’t tell you how neat it looked.
There was also beauty in character moments. This season, the crew of Discovery really became a family in such a way that it felt real and deserved, making the ending of the season all that much more satisfying and bittersweet.
It was truly a rollercoaster ride I was happy to go on both for the thrills and the emotion. Star Trek: Discovery ran the gamut from sorrow to happiness, from horror to love and it did it in a way that was both brave and satisfying.
One simply cannot discuss where this show has been without discussing where it is going and the end of the season represented Star Trek: Discovery flip its own chessboard as the ship and crew appear lost hundreds of years in the future, never to return to the 23rd century again, those left behind vowing to never speak of the ship, its spore drive, or the time suit ever again as to not contaminate the timeline.
This was a bold move, ostentatious and risky… to tie up two seasons worth of story and then literally abandon the playing field for a new one that frees them of canon and connections. I can’t wait to see where Discovery is going next, I just hope there’s more Tig Notaro.
Hey, CBS… a Captain Pike show sounds great, don’t it?