By the time I finished ‘Will You Take My Hand’ I was laughing.
How the hell do you make a season finale that is “simulaneously” filler and a rushed mess? That shouldn’t even be possible outside of a Star Wars prequel.
Nevertheless, ‘Discovery’ manages to drop the ball so comprehensively with its finale that I was equal parts amazed, appalled, amused and astounded.
It’s difficult to wrap my head around just how peculiar this episode was, but I’ll try.
The Catalogue of Stupid
- Women talk to each other! A lot! This is great! We end up with three different leaders between Cornwell, L’Rell and Georgiou who are all women. Of course, L’Rell is a cannibalistic torturer, Georgiou is a genocidal xenophobe, and as of this episode Cornwell is a genocidal xenophobe, too, but still, women! Talking! To each other!
- We open with the Klingon fleet approaching Earth. I say “fleet” – it’s like, five ships. But they’re approaching Earth. Which is tense. There’s a lot at stake. I really can’t wait to see the climactic final battle, even if it’s only five ships, who knows what will happen?
- Burnham puts a weird emphasis on the “she” part of her opening speech. Like she’s trying to make a point. “THIS SOLDIER WAS A WOMAN. HAH! GOT YOU! YOU THOUGHT SHE’D BE A MAN BUT SHE WAS ACTUALLY A WOMAN! TAKE THAT, MISOGYNISTS!” Meanwhile, Detmer, Owosekun and Airiam get eight words between them, four of which are either “Aye” or “sir”.
- Saru’s all like “She does not embody Federation ideals. We’re supposed to follow her orders?” HEY SARU BUDDY, WHICH FEDERATION IDEAL INCLUDES BEATING UP YOUR SHIPMATES SO’S YOU CAN STAY ON HOLIDAY ON THE PEACE PLANET? WHICH FEDERATION IDEAL INCLUDES KILLING A TARDIGRADE SO THAT YOU CAN RESCUE YOUR CAPTAIN WHO KEEPS A ROOM FULL OF ILLEGAL WEAPONS? WHICH FEDERATION IDEAL INCLUDES BEING A DIPSHIT? EH? EHHHH?
- Knowing that her freedom, and potentially her survival, relies on her successfully assuming the identity of her Prime Universe counterpart, Emperor Georgiou does literally nothing to try to blend in.
- “Well, gee, we just came from a mirror universe full of evil clones of ourselves, and now, right after that, we’ve just had this legendary captain returned to us from the dead! Except she’s acting all mean and evil. Well, nothing to read into there! I best continue blindly following her orders.”
- “Scared Kelpien makes tough Kelpien.” Which edgy fourteen-year-old on work experience in the writers’ room produced this calibre of dialogue? Whoever it is, they have a promising career ahead of them in the DC cinematic universe.
- “Either way, I can tell you require seasoning.”
- Burnham tries to catch Georgiou out by asking her which part of Malaysia she was born in. Except she’s from the Mirror Universe. They literally have identical names, ships, computer interfaces. Wouldn’t she just be from the same part of Malaysia? Only evil? Evilaysia?
- Also, if Burnham wants to out her that badly, couldn’t she just point to Georgiou being a sadistic tyrant, and then tell everyone “She’s from the Mirror Universe. Y’know, that place we literally just came from about six hours ago.” Christ, Tilly figured it out in seconds, I’m sure the rest of them would get with the program pretty quickly.
- Speaking of Tilly, her adorable little Nazi salute is the best part of this entire episode.
- I lied, the best part is Georgiou in full Space Pirate getup. God damn.
- God damn.
- But no, Tilly, no. You don’t get to be the “supportive best friend” now, stepping in between Burnham and Ash, when it was only twenty minutes ago that you were guilt-tripping your bestie into forgiving the impostor who had just tried to kill her.
- This new brand of Star Trek is gritty and brutal enough to bring us throat-slittings, graphic burns, the word “fuck” (twice!), but can’t show a scene in a brothel without covering up all the female nipples. G-strings are apparently a-okay, however – we get quite a few close-ups of pert buttocks clad in nothing more than two pieces of wire. Then Georgiou throws a naked woman across a room but the wispy bit of gold cloth remains superglued just above the nipple. Of course, male nipples are fine. Because they’re on men. And men have nothing to be ashamed of in this universe. Definitely not their nipples.
- Okay, so Admiral Cornwell (and Starfleet in general) is now implicated in a genocide conspiracy. Like, she tried to commit genocide, and tried to hide it. Genocide. Conspiracy. Burnham got a life imprisonment for turning on her captain and trying to start a war, so naturally the series bookends with Admiral Cornwell facing a trial of her own, and presumably a stricter punishment.
- NAH JUST KIDDING, MEDALS FOR EVERYONE.
- L’Rell has a data pad with some writing on it. The rest of the Klingons fall into line in fear of her blowing up her own planet by using said datapad. Christ, L’Rell, next time just get a big red button that’s not wired to anything. Or even better, try to sell them some volcano insurance. Or some snake oil.
- The mean, evil Klingon fleet of five ships is pretty much in lower Earth orbit. And just decides to float away as soon as L’Rell gives her speech. This was the point that I started pissing myself with laughter. All of the build-up and tension, and it culminates in a pretty five-second special effects shot. That’s it! That’s the end of the war! No daring ploys, no chase sequences, no fleet engagements, no difficult decisions. Just a data pad, and a room full of stupid Klingons.
- I also just want to take this moment to talk about the plan. So, Starfleet’s plan is to blow up Qo’Nos, right? But last episode, they establish that the Klingons aren’t currently united. And yet, with a Klingon fleet spitting distance from Earth and facing no defending ships, Starfleet decides to blow up the Klingon homeworld? Jesus, well, it’s a good thing Klingons aren’t known for grudges, vengeance or retaliation, otherwise I’d be worried that you might just be encouraging them to do something rash.
- Sarek also admits to conspiracy to genocide. Burnham lets him off with “you were having a bad day.” BURNHAM, OF A SPECIES OF EMOTIONLESS ETHICS NUTS, HE IS FAMOUS FOR BEING ONE OF THE MOST DISCIPLINED. BEING “DESPERATE” IS NOT SUFFICIENT EXCUSE FOR GENOCIDE.
- We get a schmaltzy medal ceremony, in the best traditions of Star Wars, only this time the wookiee would totally have had a medal because this is Starfleet, hence equality.
- So, Burnham’s giving a speech. To, I dunno, to the room? Except she’s facing the panel of commanders, with Cornwell, Sarek, etc. And she’s giving a speech about them keeping their principles. To the people she just called out for trying to commit genocide. And they’re the ones giving out the medals. That’s like stopping Hitler, and then getting a medal from Hitler for stopping Hitler, and then giving a speech about why Hitler’s wrong and having Hitler applaud you for it. What the hell was going through the writer’s head when they put this scene together?
- I love how the only people present at the ceremony are the actors they’d already paid to appear in the last episode. The Andorian’s there, and the Tellarite, and Cornwell, and a couple of the other captains from the holobriefing, and then all of the bridge crew who at some point got a name, even if they didn’t get any lines.
- “Oh, yeah, no, Bryce or Rhys or whoever, they definitely deserve a medal equivalent in merit to Stamets’. I mean, they gave such good status reports. And they put up with Lorca AND Saru. All Stamets did was risk his life to save his Captain, and then risk his life again to crack the Klingon cloak, and then risk his life again to get them all back from a parallel universe, oh and he also lost his husband. That’s about the same as giving some status reports.
- We never got a funeral for Culber. Just a weird mushroom-ghost thing and then Stamets being passive-aggressive with VoqAsh. Tarrah, Culber! And thanks for all the medical exposition.
- Fine, I was wrong, they didn’t time travel their way out of the plot holes. Which amazes me. Also no return of the Largeigrade. I was wrong. D’you hear!? I was wrong!
- For some reason, they end with the Original Series theme song. Don’t get me wrong, it’s ten times better than ‘Discovery’s theme song. It’s just weird. I thought we were all above that cheap 1960s TV stuff:
This episode was exhausting in its absurdity, so rather than further analysis, here’s some more bullet points on unanswered questions and narrative dead ends from throughout the series.
- What the fuck was up with those black badges? In the first episode there are Starfleet officers wearing black badges. We never see or hear of them ever again.
- What happened to the Largeigrade? It fucked off into space and then never came back. I don’t blame it, I’d be hightailing it out of this fiasco as quickly as I could. But what was it, exactly? Where did it come from? Are there more of them? What do they do? WHAT’S UP WITH THE TARDIGRADE???
- What happened to Prime Lorca? Is that really it? He died off screen? We don’t even hear how? What the shit? What happened with the Buran? Did Mirror Lorca just blow it up? What the shit? Was that all just so’s they could have the big reveal?
- And I guess that was all we get for Captain Killy, too, who remains a debris cloud in the Prime Universe.
- What happened to the Pahvans? Did the Klingons go back to wipe them out?
- What happened to Lorca’s Tribble? No, really, what happened to Lorca’s Tribble? Is it okay? Is the Tribble okay? That Tribble better be okay. If it isn’t I’m going to shit.