Warning: This contains spoilers for Episode 13 of Star Trek: Discovery Season 2. Not caught up? See our spoiler-free review of Season 1’s opening episodes here.
Most definitely not for casual viewers, this penultimate episode of Disco Season 2 is more a chance for faithful adherents to take stock of the events thus far, as the writers move the main players into position for next week’s finale. That’s not to say it isn’t fantastic – because it is. Following on from the last instalment’s stonking cliffhanger – in which Discovery’s crew come to the conclusion that the only way to stop the Sphere’s data from falling into the hands of Control is to destroy Discovery itself – we’re treated to the thrilling sight of Discovery’s crew evacuating (via corridors – presumably quicker and more energy efficient than beaming people over six at a time) to the USS Enterprise.
The scenes walk the fine line between loving homage (it looks amazing) and sacrilege (having Georgiou sneer “Orange, really?” might be a step too far for some Trekkers), but there’s no self-indulgent lingering – this is all about story, story, story. As the Section 31 fleet, under Control’s control, closes in, the Discovery crew watch in a mixture of relief and horror, as the Sphere protects itself and prevents Discovery from self-destructing. Time for a Plan B.
What they come up with pushes the boundaries of pseudo-science and credibility – a recurring theme this season – as they suddenly seem confident they can reconstruct the Red Angel’s time-travelling mech-suit, whack the powered-up time crystal into it and send Michael off into the future (apparently the only thing the pseudo-science can’t fix is the DNA element of the suit that was previously piloted by Michael’s mother), with Discovery following after her to hide out from Control in the far future.
Just by hatching this plan they are able to provide answers to previously unresolved questions. Michael’s mother was the Red Angel, but she knew nothing about the signals that had been appearing throughout the cosmos aiding them in their fight against Control – now, they realise, the signals must come from Michael. On cue, a fresh signal appears, this time around the planet Xahea, home of Princess Po. For anyone wondering when exactly Tilly had met this obnoxious alien royalty, the answer lies in minisode Runaway (hidden away under Trailers & More on Netflix UK). Po is even more annoying now than she was then – surely they could have found a different way to charge up the time crystal. If nothing else, we really didn’t need yet another character clogging up screen time.
But this is a minor quibble. Just as the story takes us into shocking new territory, the emotional fallout is brilliantly handled; Discovery’s main players having made their decision to stay on board to follow Michael, the montage in which they privately leave final messages for their loved ones is truly moving. Most welcome is the chance to see more of the minor crew members – particularly the wonderful Lt. Owosekun and Lt. Detmer – given actual dialogue beyond issuing status updates on the bridge.
Some characters, of course, are exiting stage left – Pike, returning to captain the Enterprise, gets a great farewell speech (of all the changes Discovery has wrought on the Trek cannon, the impact on Pike and his tragic story have been both the boldest and the best), and Tyler and Michael get a tearful snog. Not quite so convincing is Hugh and Stamet’s parting – their storyline’s just been allowed to just peter out, unless, of course, the finale provides more twists.
We get Sarek and Amanda too – popping over after Sarek’s pre-credit psychic flash. With all this closure, is it possible that Michael and her buddies will actually fly off to a different epoch? It’s all incredibly tantalising, not least because the Star Trek franchise hasn’t always got this sort of thing right. Both Voyager and Enterprise, during their spells in the far future, were Trek at its weakest. While some fans are clamouring for Discovery to break free of the shackles of the show’s past, it could be argued that the joy of Discovery – as we’ve seen with Pike, the Mirror Universe and so much more – is in how it’s played with the established Trek universe. How great would it be if Discovery ties in, say, with the new Picard show?
But also in need of resolution is the fact that Spock is still on board Discovery – he’s maybe got a lot of stuff to be getting on with when Kirk takes over from Pike – and both Reno and Micahel’s visions of the future could yet come into play. So, will Discovery end up in the year 2389 (rumoured to be the year in which the Picard series will be set, 10 years after Star Trek: Nemesis)? Or later? Or remain in place? Only time – a whole nerve-jangling wait for the final episode – will tell.
Star Trek: Discovery is available on Netflix UK, as part of £7.99 monthly subscription. New episodes of Season 2 arrive weekly on Fridays, within 24 hours of their US release.