Star Trek Discovery: Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

"Let's see what the future holds."

By nature I love brevity: Star Trek: Discovery delivers on the promises of the season in its dramatic finale that warps off into Season Three ready to try something new. My predictions were mostly correct, with a few surprises. Some of those surprises were substantially more welcome than others.

Last week's episode made us a whole lot of promises and set up a lot of things to happen here. All the emotional stakes of that episode hinged on the fulfillment of those promises and set-ups, though, so no matter what, if they didn't follow through we were going to feel cheated. I went into this finale with a small bit of trepidation that they might fake us out and not deliver, but those fears were happily quashed. If nothing else, I want to applaud the show for delivering on its promises, and for doing so in a way that provided entertainment and diversion for an hour and left me feeling mostly satisfied.

But, of course, I do have to talk about what went wrong. Most of this episode's problems, and indeed the whole season's problems, are the result of logical inconsistencies. For example, if they had a map of the red bursts the whole time, why couldn't they figure out where each burst was going to appear? Even if they didn't know which burst corresponded to which one on the map, after the first three they should have known the location of all seven. That was the main thing about the season as a whole that bothered me.

The biggest and most egregious problem in 'Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2' is the entire situation involving Cornwell and the torpedo. How contrived can you get, really? This seems to me to be the most stupid and pointless sacrifice since Captain America: The First Avenger, and it's certainly the dumbest thing this show has ever done. I can't even begin to fathom why anyone would think that little tiny door could do anything at all when we were told it would take out four decks/half the ship. If the door is so powerful, why isn't the whole ship made out of the same material? How is the window still intact after the blast? For that matter, why the actual heck did they put a window in a blast door? Even the reason Cornwell decided to stick around in that room with the torpedo was hopelessly contrived. Pike made some very good points about time travel and his future, and she dismissed them for no reason at all. Very disappointing and completely unnecessary. Jayne Brook and Admiral Cornwell deserve way better.

The second major issue involves Controlland and his death. First and foremost, if the Control AI was destroyed when Georgiou killed it, why do they even still need to go to the future? If destroying Control was as easy as magnetizing a whatever for a few minutes, why not focus your efforts on that rather than the time travel stuff? They even had a golden opportunity to solve all these problems and bring back some nice continuity at the same time. Why not just have Georgiou use the spores to send Controlland somewhere else, like Lorca did with Burnham way back in 'Context is for Kings'? Plus, the magnetizing the whatever solution is really dumb and sounds contrived.

All this makes it sound like I hated 'Sorrow II.' I didn't. It was largely entertaining, and despite those two major things that grated on me and a few other minor gripes, the finale did its job well. It managed partly to earn the melodrama of 'Sorrow I' and to wrap up the season's arcs in a neat and tidy manner. Let me dive further into the things I liked.

Firstly, Olatunde Osunsamni's direction was on point this week. His stylistic, swooping camera and weird, dynamic directorial choices are actually really well-suited to big action setpieces like this one. While I may not like his apparent vow to never allow the camera to be still at any moment, even in dialogue or other low-energy sequences, Osunsamni gets to infuse his energy here into a show that warrants it. On that same note, all the action was quite good and interesting to watch. The production values on this show continue to be absolutely through the roof, and it works really, really well.

I also loved, though it can very easily be dismissed as fan service, the ending with Pike, Spock, and the Enterprise. The show is certainly leaning into fan hopes for a show centered around them, for no clear reason. Clearly, they could very well do something like that, and it would be highly anticipated and probably very well received. It's ultimately up to the producers, but I really think that if they do intend to do it, it will have to be really far down the pipeline. If it were coming in the near future, we'd have heard something of it by now.

The portion of the end that deals with Discovery's supposed breaches of canon was a long time in coming. I think I'd made my peace that time travel would fix it all about a month ago, so bringing my feelings about it back is a bit difficult. If the writers had all this planned from the beginning, then kudos to them. If not, then at least they found a decent way to fix everything they'd broken. One of the things that's in the grand tradition of Star Trek is taking mistakes and discrepancies and using them for the benefit of later stories, so I'm quite pleased that this occurred here. Did they have to force it because it was necessary for the show? Yes. But let's not lose sight of the fact that it was necessary for the show.

A few surprises lurked in this episode, even though the resolution went more or less as anticipated. The first of these was that Georgiou was on the Disco as it went off into the wild blue yonder. I had expected, since Michelle Yeoh's Section 31 series is coming, that Georgiou would be left behind in the past in light of that. Not so here. This raises many questions about that Section 31 show, what Yeoh's role in it will be, and how she will play into DIS Season 3, so many that I won't go into them all here. Suffice it to say, I was surprised, and I will be interested to see where it goes from here.

Secondly, I was surprised at the arrival of everything the rest of the season had done, now coming back to help the Disco accomplish its mission. Although I suppose everything did have to be a part of a grand design like Pike and Spock have been saying all along, I was not expecting Siranna and the Kelpiens in particular. A nice touch, certainly, as was the timely arrival of L'Rell and her Klingon armada. Speaking Klingon under heavy makeup does tend to work much better when it's being yelled angrily at one's enemies in the heat of battle than it does when discussing Imperial politics while sitting at home. Plus, Mary Chieffo got to say 'Today is a good day to die' before the show left her behind.

So overall, I think I liked it. It did what it needed to do, and not a whole ton more. What more it did was mixed material, but so is this show in general. I left it feeling satisfied, and even excited for the road ahead. Take her out, folks. Let's see what she can do.

Pensees:

-Holy crap, that's a lot of shuttles. Voyager's jealous.

-I half expected Reno to die, and Po to go to the future. I'm not sad that those things didn't happen, though.

-Keep on being sassy as heck, Dr. Pollard.

-I thought Burnham and Spock's goodbye was just fine the first time, in the shuttlebay. At the end of the episode it was terribly overdone, although Ethan Peck did his darnedest to help it along.

-Is Anthony Rapp's return to the show for Season Three in doubt? They left his life still in danger at the end of the episode. I hope not; I like Stamets. His resolution with Culber felt a little out of place amid the chaos of the episode, though.

-Lots of visual cues to Star Trek: The Motion Picture in this episode, from Burnham's travel through time to the same streaky-light wormhole effect when the ship does the same.

-That really is a dang useful blast door. Voyager's jealous.

-Number One STILL doesn't have a canonical name. Why couldn't she just have given it in the debriefing scene. It's not hard!

-So Tyler has been made the head of Section 31 for now. I guess that means he'll definitely be in Yeoh's series, right?

-Clean-shaven Spock in uniform was great to see, and the shot that panned out from the bridge to the ship in space was a definite nod to 'The Cage.'

-Props to Jeff Russo for his awesome mix of the classic TOS theme and the DIS theme. I really like the music of this show in general.

Quotes:

Po: "First, I invoke diplomatic immunity for stealing this shuttle."

Reno: "I'm going, I'm going! Get off my ass! Sir! Get off my ass, sir!"

Saru: "Promise me you'll be safe."
Everything: *continues exploding*

Burnham: "So you're asking me to take a leap of faith."
Spock: "One that is only logical."

Controlland: "Where's my data?"
Nhan, searching for the most useless response possible: "Hell!"

Controlland: "This doesn't have to be this hard!"
Georgiou: "Not hard is boring, and I hate boring."

Number One: "Plans A and B didn't work. This is the Hail Mary part of the operation."

Burnham: "Find that person who seems farthest from you, and reach for them. Reach for them."

4.5 out of 6 really useful blast doors.

--
CoramDeo is a reviewer, not a bricklayer.

6 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Too many explosions! Too much queasy cam! It was a relief when Michael finally left and arrived in a whole bunch of silent space.

But I liked Michelle Yeoh's character for the first time. I liked the tribute to 2001. And the last five minutes were absolutely terrific. "Hit it." It's the new "Engage."

If I don't get a Pike/Spock series, I'm going to be very unhappy. Because at the end of this episode, I wanted to follow one particular ship. And it wasn't Discovery.

Congratulations on finishing the second season, CoramDeo. Great job.

BrianN said...

FYI: I really like Discovery, but...
Putting characters under a million to one odds of survival is stretching it...compounding it ten times with different problems (section 31, the torpedo, Leland, Bernam flying through 85 million phaser fires) is sloppy and far too much of a leap of logic.
I dont need my hand held about each of the five signals and their significance...no need to run through them again.
VFX and SFX should be in service to the story, not the main course (this is what separates Star Trek from Star Wars).
So if control is gone, why does Discovery have to go to the future now (since going to the future doesnt do anything to the sphere data)?
None of the crew on the enterprise or the Klignons or Kelpians saw what actually happened, thus making the 3 people's bs story believable? Would have been much better for them to tell the truth and Starfleet order them not to talk about it rather than having them swallow an obvious lie.
Ash Tyler (who is a Klingon!!) is now the head of section 31?
I agree with Billie about the explosions and crazycam.
The episode started fine enough but each inconsistency, each gratuitous use of eye candy, every exposition-in-the-worst-time, my heart sank. I guess Disc cant really do season finales.

Final question: So the Starfleet Admiral at the end was teased like heck...who is it?

CoramDeo said...

BrianN, I actually think the recap of the signals was more about runtime than hand-holding. Either way, though, it was quite unnecessary. I also never got the sense that they were teasing the Admiral's identity. It seemed like more of a stylistic choice, like the hearing surrounded in shadow from way back in 'Battle at the Binary Stars.'

Anonymous said...

Came here to say all BrianN said. Thanks!.

That, plus, they need to rein Burnham's tears. I feel like she's crying every.. single.. episode.

Not giving Number One's name in the interrogation was funny, but totally unrealistic. The admiral would have demoted her there and then. As some have said, how about Majel Something?. Everybody would be happy.

The battle had a lot of rhythm defects. Now everybody's about to explode, now I can go for a chat with my first officer and admiral while everything explodes around me. Not good.

Leland / the IA was just plain stupid. Playing with Georgiou and Nhan while it could be shooting everybody and win everything?. Stupid, stupid, stupid. And I like Nhan a lot more now, but "yum yum" was SO pathethic.

Finally, what hurt most was the stupid stupid STUPID death of Cornwell. You want someone to day to give weight to you episode?. DO IT BETTER. It's incredible that the blast door held. It's incredible that Pike was just looking. It's incredible that they couldn't find another option, like pulling from a rope, or her activating the "manual" mechanism and then transporting her out (or, really, transporting her in.. no problems since the shields are OUTSIDE of the ship, right?).

Don't take me wrong, I liked the episode, but each and every plothole hurts. And those were HUGE ones.

And taking our hand while going through the signals wasn't cool at all either. The signals were also very unrealistic always, a cool suit has the strength to create signals that are detected thousands of lights years away INSTANTLY?. Give me a break.

I liked the season, I liked the finale, I hate that the most egregious errors that they are making could be corrected so easily, and yet they don't correct them.

Oh, and I hate that Tilly was made a buffon this season. Two jokes more and we'll have Jar-Jar.

Oh, well. Let's wait and see what S3 brings.

Anonymous said...

"you want someone to DIE"

"buffoon"

Damned lack of edit, damn my "English".

Mark Greig said...

This season has had its fair share of ups and downs, but on the whole I've enjoyed it more than the first season including the finale. I'm excited to see where they'll not next season now that the show is now a sequel instead of a prequel. It's likely this will all tie in with 'Calypso' somehow. I wonder if we'll see Aldis Hodge again. I hope so.

That final scene really did feel like it was setting up a spin-off with Pike's Enterprise crew. There's certainly greater demand for it than the Section 31 show.