Warning: This contains spoilers for Episode 15 of Star Trek: Discovery. Not caught up? See our spoiler-free review of the series’ opening episodes here.
Star Trek: Discovery has served up a simply stunning finale to its inaugural season, with yet another lip-smackingly tasty twist to keep us salivating until next year. But more on that later. Jumping off from the action of the previous episode, with evil Terran Empress Georgiou installed as the captain of Discovery, granted permission by the Federation to lead a survey of the Klingon homeworld, Kronos or, as she put it: “To destroy the tumour at its source.” Burnham, of course, balks at this. She’s been living with the guilt her choosing a “Vulcan hello” over Star Fleet regulations led to, not just the death of this universe’s Captain Georgiou, but to all-out war with the Klingon Empire, and is determined not to make the same mistake again. But, as she muses in voice over: “Once I know fear – how do I defeat it?” Fear, here, is clearly represented by Empress Georgiou and her irrational hatred of any non-human species.
Empress/Captain Georgiou selects Burnham, Tilly and Ash/Voq to accompany on the away team. There’s some silly but very Trek fun in the Mos Eisley-esque trading post on Kronos, as Georgiou hires some Orion sex workers, Tilly accidentally gets “very high” inhaling volcanic ash and Burnham finds herself unable to watch Ash tap into his latent Klingon side as he plays an incomprehensible version of Klingon chess called “Obliterate Them”. The shouting and laughing prompt her to recall the murder of her parents, and the scene as she confides in Ash is another example of this new iteration of Trek getting the emotional beats right, as well as the action/adventure space opera elements.
When it becomes clear that Georgiou’s plan, sanctioned by the Federation, is to detonate a H-bomb inside a volcano on Kronos – which will result in a nuclear winter and the deaths of almost everybody on the planet’s surface – Burnham’s mind is made up. She appeals to the last vestiges of Empress Georgiou’s feelings for Mirror Burnham, and buys enough time to make an appeal to Admiral Cornwell, accusing her of sanctioning genocide. “Terms of atrocity are convenient after the fact,” is the admiral’s defence, and she soon gives in, as Burnham gets the backing of Acting Captain Saru and the rest of Discovery’s doughty crew.
Burnham’s plan is to transfer the bio-imprint of the H-bomb to L’Rell, who gets to use the threat of planetary destruction to unite the 24 Klingon factions. Yes, it is all tied up a little too neatly, but this is a story that’s unfolded over 15 hours and, of course, there are many threads left deliberately loose. Both versions of Lorca are undoubtedly out there somewhere, and Empress Georgiou gets to fly off to enjoy her freedom. And Ash, tearfully bidding farewell to Burnham as he leaves to aid L’Rell in unifying the Klingon houses, will surely be back – their romance can’t die here.
And then, apres un petit sojurn to Paris – the city’s 23rd Century form is brilliantly depicted – for medals, a mealy-mouthed apology from Sarek, and Burnham’s inspiring speech, it’s off to Vulcan for Discovery to be assigned its new captain. But we don’t get to find that out just yet. Instead, the writers whack us in the chops with a fantastic sting – a distress call from Captain Pike of the USS Enterprise. The word ‘fangasm’ is awful but, in this case, nothing else will do: the squeals of delight from Trekkies/Trekkers as the old music swelled over the closing credits could be heard all across the galaxy.
Well played, Team Discovery, well played.
Star Trek: Discovery is available on Netflix UK, as part of £7.49 monthly subscription. New episodes arrive every Monday, within 24 hours of their US release.