Warning: This contains spoilers for Episode 14 of Star Trek: Discovery Season 2. Not caught up? See our spoiler-free review of Season 1’s opening episodes here.
Discovery wraps up Season 2 with a blistering good hour-long episode that’s tense, moving and – as we’ll see – a game changer for both the show and the Star Trek universe.
“Prepare for battle!” yells Saru from the captain’s chair – a directive as much to the viewers as to his crew. On board Enterprise, Captain Pike is characteristically cool as ice. “This is Star Fleet,” he says. “Get it done.” (Surely a phrase destined to adorn a T-shirt in the not-to-distant future.) Taking place for pretty much the entire running time, the epic starship skirmish is as fast-moving and jaw-droppingly exciting as anything yet seen in Star Wars. The objective is clearly defined: Discovery and Enterprise must fend off Control’s commandeered Section 31 fleet until the Red Angel suit is constructed. With Stamets and Reno working feverishly, both starships sustain damage but are able to keep the enemy at bay.
The next phase, though, sees the writers turn the jeopardy up to maximum as Leland beams aboard Discovery, and the already ailing Enterprise gets an unexploded photon torpedo lodged in its saucer section. And all the while, the Section 31 barrage continues. Somehow, among all this chaos, Michael has to fly the mech-suit to a safe distance and create a wormhole in space-time.
Prior to this, Stamets is badly wounded, meaning he’s in med-bay for a near-death bed encounter with Hugh, and Michael and Spock head out together in the shuttle to bring closure to their storyline. Elsewhere, Georgiou beats the hell out of Leland – eventually killing him in a magnetised spore chamber – and Admiral Cornwell and Captain Pike attempt to defuse the photon torpedo. This leads to just one of the genuine shocks of the episode as Cornwell pulls rank and opts to sacrifice herself to save Enterprise. “Your story doesn’t end here,” she tells Pike, “and I think you know that.”
The pained expression on Pike’s face speaks volumes – not only is he loathe to let his friend die, but he’s also reminded of his own horrific future as revealed by the time crystal. As with Discovery as a whole, it’s a brilliant synthesis of in-the-moment excitement, great characterisation and call-backs to previous episodes.
Call-backs are certainly the order of the day for the final third of the episode. Thanks to Spack’s insight, Michael realises she’s not able to take the Red Angel forward in time until she’s gone back to create the signals that have been driving the story this season. So, after some suitably trippy 2001: A Space Odyssey-style stargate effects, a montage sees Michael revisit starship Hiawatha (where she saved both her own life and that of Reno), Terralysium, Kaminar, Boreth (for the time crystal) and Xhea (to pick up irritating genius Princess Po
And, thanks to the arrival of the cavalry – the Klingons (L’Rell’s sole contribution to the battle seems to be shouting battle cries from her chair: “We will wade knee-deep through the ruins of our enemy!”) and the newly assertive Kelpiens, including Saru’s sister – Michael is able to smash open a portal and vanish, with Discovery, into it. Quite where, we don’t yet know, though she seemed to be setting the controls for 950 years hence.
For more on Discovery, we’ll have to wait until next year. This season winds up with a much-needed debrief, in which Pike, Spock, Tyler and Number One lie to Starfleet in order to prevent any future iteration of Control getting its hands on the Sphere data. Discovery exploded, they insist, and everybody on board it died. It also gives us an explanation as to why the spore drive doesn’t exist in Star Trek’s near-future and, even more annoying for some fans, why Spock has never mentioned the fact he had a human sister.
As Spock tells us in voice-over, the survivors of the battle made a pact never to talk of Michael or the others in order to keep them safe. As we know, Spock keeps the vow, even when he comes to serve with Kirk, Bones and Scotty et al. As with Pike discovering the fate Star Trek viewers have known lies in store for him since 1966, so this game-changing episode adds another hidden layer to Spock; every time we watch an old episode now, we know he’s holding the memory of Michael secretly and silently. It was she, he tells her, that enabled him to find the balance between his human and Vulcan sides and make him the man he is.
It’s ingenious plotting, both wrapping things up neatly but letting Discovery fly on, free from the constraints of Trek continuity. For Season 3, adventuring 950 years into the future, Michael and the crew of the Discovery truly will be boldly going where no one has gone before.
Star Trek: Discovery is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription. New episodes of Season 2 arrive weekly on Fridays, within 24 hours of their US release.