Okay, I finished the rest of the season. Hoo boy this show is all over the place, but I’d say it was a slight improvement over Season 2. But for every step forward they seem to take a step back.
Now that Discovery and Michael Burnham are reunited in the year 3188, they set out to find out what’s left of the Federation. After they find it, they set to find the cause of The Burn which deactivated all starships across the galaxy which is part of why the Federation fell apart. You’d think Discovery with its magic Spore Drive would be the only ones going from planet to planet but apparently the Emerald Chain, the logical outgrowth of the Orion Syndicate, conduct piracy across space using the Courier Network which is a series of wormholes that connect pretty much every star system so I’m not quite sure why they need dilithium any more?
So the season is fairly episodic which is kind of nice. Discovery’s journey takes them to rediscover many familiar worlds which are now out of the Federation. Earth has left, so has Trill, Vulcan, Andor, Tellar, etc. Couldn’t they just say they hadn’t seen the main Federation hub in a while due to the Burn, and not that they all dropped out over ideological reasons and were waiting for Discovery to talk them back into joining?
Star Trek’s first transgender character, or perhaps just actor, is here in the form of Adira Tal. But Tal is a Trill symbiont in a human host. Not sure why the host had to be human instead of Trill. I was thinking oh, in the last thousand years they solved the incompatibility issue that almost killed Riker when he tried it, but no they didn’t. They are all at a loss to explain how it’s possible and I think it just came down to Adira’s belief in self. I noticed what they did, making the character a Trill so when Adira says “I prefer to be called they/them instead of him/her” the old-timers who aren’t paying that much attention would think “oh they want to be called ‘them’ plural because there’s two of them joined.” I have two questions which is (1) if the sacred symbiont pool is essential to all life on the planet Trill why were there no guards to keep our heroes from breaking in and going for a swim, and (2) if they want us to like Star Trek’s first transgender character why would they make Adira a Wesley Crusher clone, i.e. a 16 year old super genius who is smarter than all the adults in the room? Everyone hates that character.
We see the new Starfleet or Federation hub which is a space station inside of a cloaked bubble, I guess. They immediately throw out a ton of new tech like “Their ships are biological! They have holographic walls! They have detached nacelles for more manueverability!” I thought whoa, slow down. Don’t give it all away at once. Leave something for future episodes. Although I’m pretty sure that holographic walls are a bad idea. For one thing, if there’s a power loss, all your pictures will fall down. Seriously, Admiral Vance has a holographic floor in his HQ that has to be drawn in every time he opens the door. Wouldn’t it be more energy efficient to make it out of metal or something? These people can’t fly their ships anymore because they lack the fuel. And they're wasting power on holograms.
So Discovery also gets fitted with some of these tech upgrades like detached nacelles. Uh, what happens when you lose power and the magnets keeping them next to your ship fail? Oh wait, that happens in one of the later episodes and it throws you out of warp. The crew also get new comm badges that don’t just have built in communicators but also tricorders and personal transporters. Now you can beam anywhere anytime by tapping your badge. How exactly do you set the coordinates?
Also I thought that Sphere data would never be mentioned again but I was sure wrong. It has apparently overwritten Discovery’s computer and became a new AI, but Captain Saru just assumes it’s friendly and lets it be. Which I guess was the right call because it saves their ass later but that was a mighty big risk.
The crew goes to Ni’Var which was formerly the planet Vulcan where the Vulcans and Romulans now live in harmony, mostly. I guess we’re not in the Kelvin timeline if the planet is still there. There’s a really nice clip they show of Spock from TNG explaining how he’s going to reunite the two races even if it takes centuries and now we can see the fruits of his labor. And somehow Mama Burnham ended up on this planet and is now a member of a Romulan sect of Candor and has a great speech talking about all of Michael Burnham’s shortcomings. “You insinuate yourself into matters of import to fill an emotional void.” Tough but fair.
Although later in the episode they say about Spock "how much of his greatness is due to who he had for a sister?" Barf.
Actually the first 8 episodes seem to be an apology for past seasons, with Saru taking the Captain’s chair and upholding Starfleet ideals as good as any captain I’ve seen. He even demotes Burnham from First Officer to some lower job, maybe science officer. The show does a great job of explaining that while she’s a valuable crew member, she has no business anywhere in the chain of command. And frankly, she doesn’t seem to have much interest. Which is why the end of the season is so puzzling.
I said before that as much as I like Michelle Yeoh I don’t really like this Mirror Georgiou. She gets a nice storyline in eps 9-10 where she is leapt back into her younger self in the Mirror Universe right before Discovery got there in season one. Without the gimmickry of a crossover, we just get to see the Mirrors in their natural environment and I actually thought it was one of their better episodes. They bring back Lorca’s right-hand Landry (Rekha Sharma) and I don’t think she gets a single line! This whole storyline is to humanize Georgiou and show how much she’s grown since leaving the Terran Empire and darn it, I started to like her. So of course they also send her away to somewhere in time and space in an open ending. The source of her transfer, a guy on a remote planet named Carl, reveals his identity and while it had to come up again in the canon eventually, boy did it seem like a fan-fiction reveal.
I was hoping we’d see the fate of Prime Lorca in the Mirror Universe.
Boy Georgiou's farewell toast from the crew was overstated. Wasn't she basically the Hitler of her universe? Didn't you tolerate her presence more than actually like her, because she could be useful? Every single member of the crew has to say a line about how important she was to them. Even Jett Reno chimes in. Not even Data got such a sendoff. This about rivalled Kirk crying at Spock's funeral but this one went on twice as long. And Georgiou's not even dead.
But then that Georgiou episode ends with her telling Michael “you haven’t reached your full potential yet” and I thought uh-oh, I thought she was already the most perfect person ever. Georgiou says “you deserve to be in the Captain’s chair” and I thought no she doesn’t. You just spent 8 episodes illustrating why she’d be a terrible captain. She doesn’t prioritize the well-being of the Federation, or her current mission, or her crew. She gets a bug up her butt to do something and she drops everything else.
So the last three episodes 11-13 we’re doing the command shuffle. They find a Dilithium planet where the Burn started and Saru and Burnham go down there and leave Tilly in command of Discovery. Tilly. Let’s not forget that Lorca pulled her out of Starfleet Academy without graduating. She got a field promotion to acting Ensign. Nor does she have any of the character traits normally associated with a Captain like confidence or decision-making ability. This is one of those cases of the writers giving their pet character something to do but it would make no sense within the story. There are like a dozen other bridge officers with higher rank, probably more experience and knowledge of command who are more streetwise. Saru taking Tilly on a First Contact mission because she “makes a good first impression” was a good idea. Making her acting Captain would seem to be a very bad idea. Except, for some reason, she suddenly jettisons all of her normal character traits and becomes a super badass perfect Captain. She does everything right.
So we find out the Burn was caused by a guy who was left on the Dilithium planet 150 years ago who for some reason is still 30 years old. I guess that’s because his mother was pregnant with him when they crashed there and the radiation merged with his cells in utero which is a thing that happens instead of just killing the baby, making him immune to the radiation and maybe also immortal? He’s a Kelpian so he goes back to Saru’s planet at the end and Saru goes with him to help acclimate him.
Which leaves Admiral Vance to eat his words and tell Burnham “I once said you did everything wrong but it all worked out so I guess I was wrong. I want you as the new Captain of Discovery!” It’s very much like how they treated Mariner at the end of Lower Decks season one. You hate everything about Starfleet but you’re pretty smart so maybe Starfleet should change everything about itself to accomadate you!
I also noticed how small Starfleet seems now. We only see Vance and his team of 5 or so people on one small set on the space station. Where are the rest of the Starfleet brass? Where are all the people?
Oh and the main conflict is with the Emerald Chain and their leader, who proposes peace to Starfleet. They have a lie detector who says she’s telling the truth. The only hangup is Vance telling her that she will have to be prosecuted for past crimes like slavery, genocide, which she doesn’t like so they end up fighting. But I guess in the end we are to believe that her intentions were honest? She really wanted peace, it wasn’t a trap? Seems like they should revisit that.