‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Season 2, Episode 14: Virtue Signaling

Season 2, Episode 14: ‘Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2’

The season finale of “Star Trek: Discovery” was true to form: alternately impressive and head-scratching; a visual marvel and yet muddled; nostalgic and fresh. And by the end of the episode, Spock suggests that Starfleet should essentially erase the existence of the Discovery. Unintentionally, Spock was voicing the thoughts of a vocal segment of “Star Trek” fans.

Much of the episode, at least for me, recalled “Star Trek: Nemesis,” one of the more reviled Trek movies. There is an intensely long battle in which the Enterprise (and the Discovery, in this case) are massively outgunned by an enemy with the upper hand. The future of humanity is at stake. There is even an extended — and a bit pointless — boarding party when Leland beams over to the Discovery.

But this battle played to a strength of “Discovery”: Olatunde Osunsanmi, who directed the episode, knows how to create riveting tension. The fast cuts, combined with the shaky cam, provided constant visual stimulation, almost taking the viewer on a roller-coaster ride. And unlike many “Trek” battles, this one, featuring a fleet of possessed Section 31 ships led by Leland against the Enterprise and the Discovery, felt realistic. In many starship fights in “Trek” lore, an enemy ship will fire one or two shots, and suddenly, one of the most powerful ships in the Federation will have its shields down — like in “Star Trek: Generations.” Here, both the Enterprise and the Discovery both take and deliver a wallop.

I was riveted by the episode — the stakes felt real and drawn out — until the Klingons and the Ba’ul fighters showed up. This is where it went off the rails for me. I’ve been harping on this quite a bit this season: Ash Tyler is not supposed to be alive in the eyes of the Klingons. His existence nearly cost L’Rell her chancellorship before it got off the ground. And there he was on the bridge of a Klingon ship next to L’Rell. The notion that L’Rell could pull this off without significant opposition from other Klingons — or even from her own crew members — is questionable at best. And somehow, the Ba’ul and Klingons are able to come lend a hand, but no other Starfleet ships?

Certain inconsistencies you can live with. Here, I was distracted.

Particularly when Burnham and Spock solve another grand mystery, which is when Burnham sent the red signals. It turns out it was never from the future. She sent them from the present to bring them to this point, so that afterward, they can go into the future.

This was another instance that confused me. From my understanding (and please email me if I’m incorrect!), Control (i.e. Leland) was coming for the sphere data and wouldn’t stop until they had it. This is why the Discovery has to go into the future. It’s very existence is the problem, as Spock said in the first part of the episode. Yet, in the finale, Georgiou, following a long fist fight, tells the bridge that Leland has been killed.

“Control has been neutralized,” she tells Saru.

So why does Discovery have to go into the future? Why not put a pin in that plan? The sphere data is valuable. To push an entire Starfleet crew into the future seems like a drastic step if the deadly enemy has been offset — even if temporarily. It would also deprive the Federation of key assets: a time suit, the spore drive and some of its best officers. Spock also mentions that the time crystal shows a version of the future that can apparently be avoided. So why was it such a big deal for Pike to take a crystal out of Boreth? Wasn’t Pike told he was locked into his future?

I liked that the episode was more of an ensemble effort: Every crew member had a moment of some sort, even Cornwell, although her death seemed unnecessary. And knowing “Discovery,” she’ll find a way to have survived the blast.

But the ending is where I found myself very baffled: Why did the Enterprise crew, and those associated with it, decide to lie to Starfleet about what happened with the Discovery? There didn’t seem to be a logical reason to. Spock, in particular, given his character history, would seem to have a hard time not telling the truth about this. The Discovery just saved the universe! Why hide their contributions? Maybe Starfleet would authorize the construction of a new time suit to bring back the Discovery crew. (And Spock, who suggests that everyone who knows about the existence of Discovery should keep quiet, closes the episode with a personal log which would reveal, or at least, acknowledge the falsehood. What if someone got a hold of it?)

It was an uneven finale for an uneven show. Season 2 was certainly an improvement on the first season but overall, “Discovery” still felt like it was trying to find its footing. Ethan Peck was always going to have difficult shoes to fill with Spock. Over the course of the season, Spock went from petulant to showing a warmth for Burnham, exhibiting a range that felt to me out of character for the Spock we’ve come to know. (I did think it was a nice moment when Burnham and Spock said good bye to each other.)

But that’s where we leave off: The Discovery is presumably in the future. Spock is on the Enterprise. And what about the Control-As-Borg theory?

Speaking of which …

Odds and Ends

• Lots of “Discovery” fans were convinced that Control is the origin story for the Borg. We don’t get definitive resolution on that in the finale. But maybe next season?

• We know there is going to be a Season 3. We also know Anson Mount is leaving “Discovery” after this season. So where does the third run of the show take place? In the future? Does it center on Spock?

• A shout out to Anson Mount and Rebecca Romijn (Number One), who is also saying bon voyage to “Discovery.” They were both charismatic assets for the show. I’d love to see Tig Notaro come back next season as well.

• Thanks for following along this season. It’s much appreciated.

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