Star Trek Discovery: Such Sweet Sorrow

Pike: "Sometimes we know the role we play, sometimes we don't. I'm not sure which is better, to be honest."

By nature I love brevity: A fine piece of build-up. This show has filler, transitional episodes down to a science.

The aptly named 'Such Sweet Sorrow' is filled with goodbyes, framed around the countdown until the big event of the finale. On the one hand, I'm pleased with most of the emotional beats 'Sorrow' hits, and there are a lot of them. On the other, this is almost entirely set-up and build-up, and it gets a little tiresome when you know you'll have to wait a whole week for the resolution.

But, as I said, the emotional scenes are mostly well-realized, so let me unpack them. Probably the most disappointing of them was between Tyler and Burnham. It had to be done, and I expect the show is only passing him off to Michelle Yeoh's Section 31 series, but I continue to be thoroughly underwhelmed by Shazad Latif. I didn't mind him so much in the first season, but all throughout this one he's been delivering poor performance after poor performance, and his character has been of precious little use. I won't miss him here, but I have hope that he'll fare better on the Section 31 series as his interactions with Yeoh's Georgiou are easily the best the character has.

Next in line we have the unfinished, unresolved feel of Stamets and Culber's bumbling goodbye. I very strongly doubt the show is done with their relationship, so I don't believe for a second that it's going to end this way. Their conversation, too, was awkward and cut short, and that leaves the audience feeling that something isn't right, and it's still unsettled. If the show vaults the Disco into the future as it promises to, I expect that either Stamets and Culber will both be aboard, or they will both leave the show together. But their conversation does have value, as the discussion of 'forward motion' seems to be a promise about the series more than it is about the two of them. If the show ends up making the jump to somewhere in the future, that would be a huge step of forward motion. Fans have widely decried Discovery's status as a prequel, and a time jump would certainly at least begrudgingly placate some of them.

One emotional farewell seemed particularly out of place for plot reasons, and this was the surprise visit of Sarek and Amanda. These two have been a large part of the series so far, and it seemed fitting that James Frain and Mia Kirschner be brought back one last time. It's the method of doing this that didn't work. The purpose of the episode's numerous countdown timers is to give the plot a sense of urgency, and that was heightened for most of it by a sense of loneliness. The Disco and the Enterprise are supposed to be without reinforcements and without aid, but the arrival of Sarek and Amanda on a Vulcan ship that then just kind of left completely shattered this. If Sarek and Amanda had time to get there, surely at least a few Vulcan ships could've gotten to that spot. And what about the ship that Georgiou must have used to get there? They said she 'arrived,' but gave absolutely no explanation of how. These kinds of questions are raised by the nature of Sarek and Amanda's farewell, and I wish they had gone with something less in-person for that reason.

I absolutely loved the sequences that involved the larger crew. The first of these, of course, was the touching recording of goodbye messages to everyone's families and friends. It was a nice look into Owosekun and Detmer's lives in particular, to see who they cared most about. The second nice, touching scene was the farewell to Captain Pike. Though he will of course be in the finale, he will almost certainly not be interacting with the Disco crew before they leave for times unknown, so it was good to send him off with the appropriate flair. I thought the scene relied perhaps too heavily on dialogue, but the moment at the end where they all stood as he left the bridge was well-deserved.

Notable by their absences are the departures of Spock and Georgiou. These, of course, are being saved for the second part. Spock must leave because he cannot exit the timeline according to canon, and Georgiou must leave because she will have to head up the Section 31 series. That they're saving these two farewells for later means there is something important planned regarding them, and I certainly hope they will be worth the wait.

Two characters made unexpected appearances here, and I'll be interested to see what happens to them in the finale. First is Reno, who is finally starting to have a role worthy of the fanfare her character received. Reno finishes the episode by staring into the time crystal, seeing all manner of horrible things. I wonder if this is leading up to a sacrifice in the end, or if she will be left broken or insane by the visions of the future. Also making her presence felt is Queen Po, whose existence can be explained by the Short Trek 'Runaway.' Yadira Guevara-Prip is clearly far more comfortable in her role here than she was in 'Runaway,' and I would almost say she is now too comfortable. Po's casual couldn't-care-less attitude is at times refreshing, but at other times it feels off and out of place. She is still on board at the end of the episode because reasons, so I wonder what role she will have to play in the final events of the season.

Oh yeah, and... THE ENTERPRISE! The bridge! The hand grips in the turbolift! The little grate things in the hallway! Useless blinking lights everywhere (courtesy of superfan James Cawley, whose recreation of the TOS sets is something any Trek fan should go see)! I absolutely loved the look of the ship's interior, and I'm very well impressed by the attention to detail and homage to Matt Jeffries' incredible original designs. This fan is happy with it, very much so.

Strange New Worlds:

The ship visited Po's home world of Xahea, but we never went down to the surface. It's now an extremely politically relevant planet, we're told, due to Po's scientific discoveries.

New Life and New Civilizations:

No new species or cultures here, or even any exploration of previous ones. I guess we're down to the plot now, and there isn't any time to explore.

Pensees:

-Rebecca Romijn's Number One makes a very brief appearance in this episode, but I thought she worked better here than she did in 'An Obol for Charon' earlier this season.

-Disco's auto-destruct system uses handprint recognition rather than voice identification and codes.

-The sound design of the Enterprise scenes was great, with classic noises for everything from door whooshes to torpedo fire.

-The teaser for this episode was 13, almost 14 minutes long. That's nearly a third of the episode's runtime!

-Georgiou doesn't like ice cream. Add that to the list of her bad-guy cliches.

-I don't like the way the Captaincy discussion was set aside. Saru's glance at Burnham when he said there were many things to consider made it seem like Burnham will be made Captain over Saru. Please don't actually let that happen, writers. Please?

-Dear Mr. Osunsamni, Please stop spinning. Sincerely, Everyone.

-Further evidence to support the still quite unlikely theory that CBS is planning a series set on Pike's Enterprise: The Enterprise sets, which were built fresh rather than redressed from the Disco bridge; the minor bridge characters on the Enterprise who had distinctive characteristics and were given names despite appearing for less than five minutes.

Quotes:

Georgiou: "I thought there were no bad ideas."
Pike: "That's a lie."
Cornwell, at the same time: "That's a bad one."

Po: "You look taller in your photos."
Burnham: "Thank you?"

Po: "I don't have to listen to any snark. I made it an actual law."

Georgiou: "You flinging yourself into the future like some galactic rubber band with a martyr complex."

4 out of 6 truly bad ideas.

--
CoramDeo has never painted daisies on a big red rubber ball.

3 comments:

Sam Smith said...

It would be nice for this show to be able to stop tiptoeing around established canon, but i’m not convinced they’ll end up leaving. It feels like it could go either way. When would they end up thogh i wonder? The obvious answer is around the time of the new picard series, but maybe its ridiculously far in the future. And correct me if im wrong, but Calypso doesnt fit into any of this.

Michal Dvorak said...

I figure Pike's Enterprise series is something CBS must at least be considering. I could think of no other reason why Rebecca Romijn would take such a minor role. (Also Anson Mount is so good as Pike, it would be a waste if this was the last we saw of him.)

CoramDeo said...

My personal theory is that Pike and the Enterprise crew will not be the focus of their own show, but will regularly appear on one or more of the different upcoming Trek series.