Discovery really wanted to end this season on a bunch of big emotional notes, reaffirming the ideals of the Federation as something to strive for, and end with a shot for fans to cheer for. It did not succeed.
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That was the theme of Discovery's latest episode: Michael Burnham's struggle between wrong, emotional (her words) choices and right, principled ones is also the struggle of the United Federation of Planets. Her giving into temptation and selfishly rescuing Emperor Georgiou is much the same temptation faced by the Federation in this episode. But will the Federation make as bad a call as Burnham did?
Ah, Discovery. This might be the best exploration one of these episodes has ever done in encapsulating just how miserable the Mirror Universe really is. Like, we all joke about goatees and the agony booth, but the idea's existed for so long it's almost been kitschy. Not any more. But, of course, the true betrayal isn't this universe's versions of themselves, but something Discovery brought along with it.
The midseason finale of Star Trek: Discovery, "Into the Forest I Go", finally got this show to the place it should have been all season. Of course, in the process, it had to jettison a lot of character development it has been working on - but since it was mostly stuff that was bad, I'm perfectly happy letting them get away with it. This episode was the climax to a season that never existed, a season where the plot and characterisation was better. You can see that potential here.
This week's "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum" ended on a cliffhanger that sets up a big showdown for next week's finale. Meanwhile, everyone, save Burnham, is wandering around acting suspicious as hell. And for some reason, the show seems like it's doing its own version of a classic Klingon-Federation moment from the original series.
"Lethe" was a character episode. It was fine. Well, it wasn't. Every plot beat was fairly predictable and the emotional resonance got about halfway there at best. At least I didn't loathe it. I just found it tedious. And instead of thinking about Sarek and Burnham's past and Lorca's future, I kept wondering why this show even exists as a prequel.
Captain Lorca doesn't have a lot of dimension, but it turns out that's a good thing. Lorca is best when he is merely an archetype of a certain set of militaristic beliefs, set in opposition to scientist Stamets, who's devoted to the pursuit of knowledge only. And of course, Burnham's journey is about trying to navigate a path between them.
The third episode "Context Is for Kings" is the first true episode of Discovery, and it's a big improvement over the two-episode TV movie that kicked off the series last week. The characters are more interesting now, the ideas smarter, and the world better understood. Granted, I may be biased because it's also examining a Trek issue I've been dying to see tackled.
The prevailing question about Star Trek: Discovery is "Is it good enough?" Is it good enough to justify all the delays? Is it good enough to get over the fact that CBS embargoed all reviews until now? Is it good enough to justify paying $US5.99 ($8) ($US9.99 ($13) without commercials) a month? And, based on the first two episodes, the answer appears to be "Maybe?"