After a brilliant second season, Star Trek Discovery boldly going where no one has gone before
Season two of Star Trek Discovery boldly went where no one had gone if not exactly before, at least for a long, long time.
And, SPOILERS AHEAD, Michael Burnham cried. Like, in every single episode.
Yet it’s a series that fully found footing in year two — replacing the tedious Ash-Tyler-as-Klingon switcheroo (that I still don’t actually medically understand) with stories that were more meaningful and, most importantly, “Star Trek”-like.
The second episode, New Eden, was an extremely encouraging early sign it was possible to have a conceptually fully formed, old school Star Trek episode with a beginning, middle and end, raising philosophical questions about uneven technology, religious zeal and even the value of belief in the unreal — gasp! — that hadn’t been on screen since at least Archer and Trip’s Enterprise set 100 years earlier (and certainly nothing of this sort was found in the reboot films).
And it was around now that Anson Mount’s Capt. Christopher Pike began to spin everyone’s heads as being easily in the running as one of Star Trek’s best few captains, from his sense of humour, to his patience, to his acknowledgement of any particular crew member’s value to just an overall silver-fox handsomeness and charm.
And in that incredible eighth episode, If Memory Serves (which opened with “previously on Star Trek” images from more than 50 broadcast years earlier) didn’t we all sigh with relief realizing Ethan Peck’s franchise-central role at least looked believably Spock-like, the next few episodes proving how just important voice and cadence are in reproducing a character, even over physical appearance? We bought him.
But one of the best and most subtle things about this version of Spock is his looser emotional state, somewhere between Leonard Nimoy’s smiling/running-away goofball in the original Star Trek pilot The Cage and early original series episodes Where No Man Has Gone Before and The Man Trap.
It was territory worth exploring, with events that changed a character seemingly already finished off, dead of old age in some alternate timeline. But throw Rebecca Romjin’s perfect Number One onto the pile and we have a crew I’d happily watch having more adventures of their own until Capt. Kirk takes his spin in the big rotating chair on the red and grey bridge.
Pike’s arc even in one season — our full-on horror seeing his future, his unparalleled sacrifice choosing it, his ghostly demeanour afterwards — was all simply spectacular.
Let me stress this again — and I think a lot of fans agree — I’d be delighted to see these actors in these same roles on the big screen. I like them, their dynamic, the look of their Enterprise, their stories in terms of respecting what Star Trek’s all about — you name it, really — at least twice as much as I like the fun yet empty J.J. Abrams-initiated Kelvin timeline Star Trek reboot series, which apparently has hit development hell for part four, anyway.
I already ache for this Pike and his posse.
Which circles us back to the crew of Discovery, and let’s just drop the word SPOILERS down once more to be safe.
Between the evolution of Saru into a more daring peeled Zoidberg (with bonus neck bullets), to the addition of Tig Notaro as sardonic Jet Reno, to Hugh Culber’s post-traumatic, very realistically awful relationship deadeyes for Paul Stamets, Discovery this year never stopped being interesting and emotionally engaging. Also, thank Apollo, it was actually consistently funny — Mary Wiseman’s Sylvia Tilly always givin’ ’er, down to her electrocuted-Garfield hair. I fully love her.
Many found it obvious Michael Burnham was going to be the Red Angel, because on Discovery, everything’s always “Michael” to such an extent we better find out she’s half Egyptian god with Jedi powers or something by the end of the series — because why the hell else would she be able to almost destroy the Federation, saved from prison by her madman ally from another dimension, but still able to just borrow a shuttle whenever she feels the need to hop off somewhere?
To be clear, Sonequa Martin-Green is terrific actor, but she more than any character suffers Discovery’s tendency to give its actors scenes to really chew on without considering narrative sense — that scene where she’s crying over fake-out dying Saru being a great example. Wait, they’re … best friends? When the f— did that happen?
But, then Discovery went and did something I’ve been begging both Star Trek and Star Wars to do for years: really, truly leave their timeline comfort zones and get as far away from the original source material as possible.
And I’d say 800-plus years in the future is just enough distance to really shake things up into Mr. Spock’s “there are always possibilities” zone.
Consider how our lives would look from the perspective of someone from the 12th century for some perspective here. Whither the Federation? The Klingons? Will it be a universe ruled by territorial housecats? The mind reels, grinning.
And I want them to stay there, and have some reason they want to stay there, instead of the castaway Gilligan’s Island syndrome of Voyager, which got this close to having the Harlem Globetrotters show up for the finale.
OK, I’m teasing — calm down, Jeri Ryan fans — but Spock really did stress that no one should ever speak of Discovery or his adopted sister again. And if we can’t trust Spock’s intuition, what was the point of any of all that sacrifice?
So please keep being bold, Discovery, and thank you for taking us back to that place which so intrigued us 50 years ago, exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations.
You seriously did it. Full speed ahead!
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019