On Thursday, Star Trek Discovery: Season Two ended in a huge fashion. We had the final battle between Control and Starfleet. When I mean Starfleet, I generally mean Discovery and the Enterprise. But, before we get into that and that whole ending, it is important to look back at Star Trek Discovery: Season Two as a whole and for me to explain that this is the Star Trek show fans complained about not getting. You are, just are too busy hating to take it all in.
The season picks up right where season two left off, but it didn’t waste time shaking off season one for a new direction. This season, we didn’t have mysterious Mirror Universe characters sneaking around, or multi-episode arcs with some standalones in between. This 14-episode season was one giant adventure with some distracting stories in between, but they all were part of the main objective in the end. It reminded me of what they tried to do with Star Trek: Enterprise, but over 22-episodes it went a bit long. But, it did have Scott Bakula, so that was a plus.
The second season, also, managed to retcon much of what they established in the first season. It focused on the crew, rather than just Michael Burnham. When I mean, they focused on the crew, the other members of the bridge crew had dialogue beyond replying to the captain’s orders. Characters like Rhys, Bryce, Keyla, Airiam, and Owosekun. Instead of reducing Ash Tyler to exile, he is recruited by Phillippa to join Section 31. Captain Lorca, who was prominent in season one was only mentioned once or twice in season two.
One of the major missteps Discovery made during season one was the killing of Dr. Hugh Culber by Ash. While he was a reduced presence after that, appearing in flashbacks or in Stament’s mind when inside the spore drive, it faced some backlash after the “kill the gay” trope was used in this show like in many other television shows. However, early on in Discovery: Season Two, they are forced into the spore drive again when Tilly is taken prisoner and they go to rescue her. During the mission, they find Hugh stuck in that environment and is causing damage to that ecosystem. They bring him and Tilly back to this reality. Staments reunited with Hugh runs the storyline of “be careful what you wish for.”
Some characters went through a change on the show that worked. Saru, during season one, was an insecure and danger-fearing character. During the initial introduction in season one, he was a bit too weak to be in Starfleet. Not to mention, his hatred (which may be too strong of a word) for Michael clouded all his interaction with her. However, in season two, when he was facing death (?), he discovered that his fear nodules were not for death but for a new life. You really need to see that episode.
Doug Jones’ Saru became one of the biggest badasses in Starfleet. The character, which was based in their previous evolution, was prevented from maturing and subjugated to remain docile and non-threatening to their overlord species. Since his “rebirth”, Saru became fearless and commanding. Even going toe-to-toe with Pike in certain instances. Letting the crew handle things in a more aggressive manner in the case of Ash and Hugh fighting in the crew mess. Not to mention his banter with Phillipa is always perfect and timeless.
Of course, you can’t discuss the season without discussing Pike and Spock. Captain Pike (Anson Mount) joins the series in episode one through the finale. He is taking over the ship to investigate red beacons that are showing up at various points in space. Mount’s Pike is immediately likeable and embodies everything a good Starfleet captain should be. A complete 180 degree move from Lorca. He has the adventure of Kirk and the diplomacy of Picard. Mount’s performance even bested Bruce Greenwood’s Pike in the 2009 reboot and Into Darkness, and I love Bruce Greenwood too. After this season, I am one of those fans that believes he deserves his own series as Pike since there is a lot of time for him to discover.
One side note, the writers really managed to blend Discovery into the universe of Star Trek. They return to Talos IV and merge Spock and Pike’s history with the planet and even show clips from “The Cage” in their recap to prepare people for the episode. At the same time, they show Pike’s future and knowing that he would end up with the predicted future if he took the time crystal – it gave his senseless demise in TOS some purpose and the reward of returning to Talos IV more of an emotional impact.
Knowing Spock was going to appear was a bit concerning to me. Anytime you have a character of the original series appear, they tend to take over the storyline. However, Spock was essential but not overpowering in the storyline. Using Ethan Peck, he managed to play a Spock that was on the road to being the Vulcan we all know and love. Using some of his immaturity that we saw in “The Cage” and in early episodes of TOS, it introduced us to a Spock that has not reached his level of logic. In fact, he is broken. Peck does a great job in playing Spock and not imitating any of the actors that played him before. He needs to join Pike in a new Enterprise series.
We get more insight into Section 31, the covert agency that works within Starfleet. As in section 31 of the Starfleet charter. They answer to no one and that leads into the issue of the season. Philippa joins Section 31 and is re-introduced saving L’Rell and Ash’s child from death. Removing both Ash and their son to preserve L’Rell’s leadership over the Klingon Empire. As a man without a home, Ash is recruited into Section 31 and quickly becomes the balance between Section 31 and his loyalty to Starfleet ideals. Leland starts off as a smarmy character and unsure where his loyalties lie, but when he is taken over by Control, he fits the bad guy role perfectly.
This season isn’t without its share of feels. The death of Airiam was emotional to the point of “I’m not crying, you’re crying.” While the character wasn’t given much to do in the past two seasons, they fleshed her out in her episode and making her sacrifice more heroic and painful. We find out her backstory and the tragedy that seemed to follow her. The performance by the crew was heart-wrenching and nearly difficult to watch.
A favorite of mine, Admiral Cornwell paid the ultimate price in the finale. After the Enterprise is struck with an undetonated photon torpedo, she willingly locks herself inside a section to protect the ship and its crew. Cornwell became a strong fixture to Discovery and always backed their play even after what Lorca did. Her performance this season was more of a seasoned officer and friend to both crews. That moment across both ships was felt by everyone watching. But, she died with dignity.
In regards to Star Trek lore, which everyone seemed to bitch about, the writers managed to tie everything up. With Discovery lost in the future, the memory core’s appeal is too great. Thus, it was announced that Discovery, her crew, and the spore drive should never be discussed and punishable as treason. Perfectly explaining as to why they don’t have that technology or we have never heard of Spock’s “sister” before. However, where the show goes from here remains unclear, especially since we know they are coming for a third season.
The ending of the episode was a bit weird. The remaining few minutes of the episode focused on Spock waiting for a signal from Michael. A seventh signal to know they are alive and well. Although, the way the show ends, it almost seems that the show was signaling a new series for the Enterprise, rather than an end of Discovery: Season Two. Franchises have done some backhanded things before, so this isn’t out of the realm of possibility. There is nearly a decade between Pike and Kirk. We could have a good five-year run with all-new adventures focused on Pike and Spock. Plus, the Enterprise bridge design was the sexiest design I have ever seen. I would seriously be surprised if CBS doesn’t mention something about it in the near future.
As a whole, this season was more even than its first. The first half of season one was awkward at first, then found its footing. Star Trek Discovery: Season Two knew where their mistakes were and decided to fix them. Dynamic storytelling, cinematography, score, and visual effects really powered the episodes. The acting was, again, a highlight of the series, and enough credit can’t be given to these guys. Season two really brought back the Starfleet code and brightened the series from their grim season one. I am curious to see where the show goes from here, but I will be back for season three.
You can currently check out both season one and two on CBS All Access. The streaming service costs $9.99/month. It, also, has a seven-day free trial. That is worth a look-see.