Season 1 / Episode 15 / CBS All Access
End of the Season for Star Trek: Discovery! It is clean up/set up time for the show, which it does an admirable job of. We’ve got to manage the Klingon War, Mirror Georgiou, and Ash/Voq all in this episode, oh and maybe try to end on an optimistic note after 14 episodes of darkness. Let’s see how this goes…
Trouble on the Bridge
Burnham’s voice over here is powerfully delivered, if a little Art of War in its style, and it is one of the themes that attempts to weave this episode together. As the voice over fades, “Captain” Georgiou is ordering the Bridge crew around like she never left home. She’s feeling pretty buff — StarFleet needs her and she’s got the best ship in the galaxy to get it done. While the Klingons are amassing on Sol (that’s where I keep all my stuff!) Georgiou is heading towards Qo’noS with a pocket full of surprises.
Georgiou tries to put the fear of herself into Saru — who is standing there making those Kelpian faces of disapproval.
This is not the prey that Georgiou is used to.
Burnham isn’t one to just hang out knowing fear is right over there. She smarts off to “Captain” Georgiou, trying to trip her up by asking her questions about her past. That doesn’t work. (Uncoincidentally, Yeoh the actress is from Malaysia, just like Georgiou is.)
They take a walk. Georgiou reveals that she’s going to do what no one else in Star Fleet has the guts to do: take the fight to the Klingons.
Let’s Talk to Our Local Klingons
First stop: L’Rell. She’s understandably confused because she watched Prime Georgiou die way back in episode 2. L’Rell and crew even ate her heart, it was salty. This isn’t that same Georgiou. Mirror Georgiou shows it immediately, going into the cell with L’Rell and handing out the high kicks and the hard elbows to try to force planetary info out of the bound and trapped Klingon. Burnham can barely stand to watch. Which isn’t fair, because I could watch Georgiou kick people’s asses for hours and never get bored. In fact, I have. But Burnham is a softy. She has another way.
Second stop: Ash. They make a big deal here of Ash and the boat and the knot and all that. Somehow this boat obsession has never been mentioned before. It is a sentimental touch that fails to carry the emotional weight the show wants it to. Anyway, Georgiou goes about calling Ash “it” for a few minutes, which does work to make me feel sorry for Ash (a display of weakness which I hate myself for). Ash has access to all of Voq’s memories and he’s willing to share them for…meaningful look at Burnham…StarFleet.
Turns out, while Disco is going to be hiding *inside* Qo’noS, they need to get a mapping drone into the volcano system to assist with their recon. Which of the 7 dormant volcanoes should they use? The one that is also Orion outpost of scum and villainy, of course!
Georgiou, because she’s the only one with the whole plan; Burnham, because she’s Burnham and Georgiou knows that if she leaves her on the ship, it is Mutiny city; Ash, because he actually knows where they’re going…oh, and…Tilly! To handle the drone.
Curly haired Tilly enters and remains *hilarious*. She’s super excited to meet THE Philipa Georgiou. Until she realizes that this is Mirror Georgiou.
They all dress as “low lifes” while Georgiou raids Lorca’s ready room for tradable goods.
There’s a subtle but effective moment here, as they’re walking down the hall that is easy to overlook. Ash talks to Burnham, and seeing her discomfort, Tilly does perfect girlfriend work and slides up between them, shielding her friend and pushing Ash away. The show is full of small interactions like that between the women characters — they’re aware of each other and stand firm together.
And off they go.
The Orion Outpost
Built inside a dormant volcano, the Orion trading post is a-wash with street food, Klingons pissing in alleys, and gun running. They approach an Orion woman selling weapons. “Go away, Federation, no one wants you here.” I guess they just walk like cops. Tilly is channeling her old Killy ways here for a bit, and she is glorious again. But she’s also comforting Burnham and sharing some Space Whale, which looks like bacon. Tilly’s a true friend, even if she sometimes gives bad boyfriend advice.
Next, the strip club/whorehouse, because that’s how we roll on modern Away missions in the 20teens. Georgiou finally looks at home, purring, I knew your entire universe couldn’t be boring as she watches a man and woman writhe for her money. She takes them *both* to the back, leaving Tilly alone at peak awkward. (Yep, both. That’s how we roll.)
Ash and Burnham go to the gambling room. Ash reaches into his Voq memories, and enters the game, trying to pal up and get some intel. It is a well-acted scene, with plenty of foreshadowing for Ash’s future development — he seems happiest when he embraces both his Ash and his Voq. However, the more he plays the Klingon, the more miserable Burnham is, even through her Vulcan veneer.
Turns out, Burnham never told Ash about how her parents died. Now she tells him. Her trauma is palpable as she tells the tale of how the Klingons killed her parents then sat at her dinner table and ate the food her family was about to eat. Ash isn’t the only one who has memories. But even with that memory, she doesn’t want to destroy the Klingons. They are here, living their lives. Burnham has second thoughts about blowing up their home the way they blew up hers. Ash is on both sides, compassionate for both Humans and Klingons. Burnham is there too now.
Can we talk about how Burnham holds the communicator like we talk into iPhones now? Not like we *used* to talk into flip phones, which were modeled on…communicators? Such a strange detail of how Trek has influenced science and tech and how actual use is now reflecting back in to Trek.
Tilly, alone, gets herself in trouble with a hookah and an Orion. She comes to just in time to save her briefcase and find out what we all probably guessed, that’s no drone. That’s a bomb.
Georgiou shakes down the two sex workers for the location of the shrine, knocks Tilly the entire fuck out, and takes the bomb.
The bomb. It is a hydro bomb. Once it comes into contact with the hot lava, Qo’noS will go pear-shaped in the worst way imaginable. In a matter of weeks, Qo’noS will be uninhabitable. This place that Burnham has just admitted is a home, will be gone. Can’t let that happen. Time to holo-call the Admiral.
Is this how Starfleet wins the war? With genocide?
Burnham, with a deep admission of her own guilt, threatens the Admiral with a mutiny a second time to force a change of plans. She then goes down to the volcano shrine to talk Georgiou out of the bomb. This woman has guts of solid steel. Another perfect exchange between Georgiou and Burnham makes me dream of a different show, with the two of them traipsing through the galaxy as sister-friend bandits. Georgiou’s the shooty one. Burnham’s the talky one. They get the job done. It would be a great show. But, that’s not what we’re here for. Georgiou can’t watch Burnham die a second time, just as Burnham couldn’t watch her die back in the Mirror Universe, so she hands over the bomb and ghosts. Forever to be just one episode away from a cameo. Long Live Philipa the Pirate!
What’s Burnham gonna do with this bomb?
Give it to L’Rell. Obviously.
L’Rell isn’t swayed by Burnham. She’s swayed by Ash finally really feeling his Voq. He was the Torchbearer for HER as much as T’Kuvma. She is the promised one. This is the moment when I stopped hating Ash. In the midst of his own process, he reaches out to a woman some part of him knows as his torturer and admits that she’s got value and power. Voq believed in L’Rell, just like Ash believed in Burnham. And maybe now, they’re the same person.
Out of the Shadows
Ash decides to go with L’Rell. He’s no good for either side, but he can be good for both. He leaves. I admit it, when he said “I”m gonna miss looking at you,” I got a little soft on the inside. It isn’t his fault he was a heart-breaking double agent who busted up my girl Burnham’s first relationship. I’d have hugged him too. Long live Ash/Voq Klingon Peacemaker.
To close, the two women who’ve gone through the most, struggled and succeeded against all their own faults, give their own speeches. L’Rell, before the assembled Houses of the Klingons, takes over as the leader/unifier of the Klingon race, with the threat of a planet ending bomb as her guarantee. Burnham, before the Federation, gets all she wanted: her commission back.
Here she wraps up that speech about fear. The only way to defeat fear is to tell it No. It felt like a little bit of each of the previous captains was there with her in that speech, with enough of her own personality in it to not feel repetitive. If the show had ended there, I’d be happy about so many things.
As the Discovery is warping, the old fashioned way, to Vulcan to pick up their new captain, they receive a distress signal. It is the U.S.S. Enterprise.
End season 1.
Did the show succeed in wrap up and set up? Absolutely. Compared to the last 3 episodes, this was actually slow and thoughtfully paced. I can’t praise Michelle Yeoh and Sonequa Martin-Green enough for their performances. They weren’t always perfect, but they were always fun. Together as Captain and First Officer they play off each other even when Georgiou isn’t present. Their conflict in this episode just makes their similarities more plain.
The connection that is drawn between Burnham and L’Rell, with Ash/Voq as their pivot, was effective and emotional. It leaves me liking L’Rell’s passion even more because of her modesty, and her ability to admit it, then overcome it. They also managed to redeem Ash/Voq for me, because he decides to go away. I’m sure he’ll be in the same cameo boat as Georgiou, which is fine.
The rest of the crew, Stamets, Saru, Killy, I mean TILLY, fill their roles well. Stamets has faded from the center of the plot in this episode, which makes me sad, but he’ll be back to science again soon. Saru has gone from the annoying side of persnickety to the reliable side of detail-oriented in this season. He’s fun without being funny. That lets Tilly be *hilarious*. She stays awkward and adorable to the very end. I can’t wait to see how far she goes as a Command Trainee.
It all feels satisfactorily done. These characters are digging their way into my heart as a fan. I can rest up for a few months without tearing my hair out over a death defying cliff hanger. I appreciate that.There’s more to process here, so expect more commentary on Star Trek: Discovery as the year progresses. And yes, our Black Nerd Problems staff will be back next year for SEASON 2!!!