TL;DR – The mid-season finale is both gut-wrenching and fascinating, both an ending and a new beginning.
Score – 4.5 out of 5 stars
This week marks a couple of first for Star Trek as a franchise, it is the first time ever that we have had a mid-season finale, the end of Chapter One. As well as this, it is the first time that women’s nipples have ever been shown on screen, though men’s nipples have been fine since the days of The Original Series. Also, this week we get the first gay kiss between two men, indeed there are a lot of firsts. So today we are going to break down what worked in this final episode for a while, and I think it is a good sign that part of me kind of wishes we didn’t have to wait until January to see more.
So to set the scene, at the end of last week’s episode Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum (see review), which is the part one of the two episodes, we had all the plot lines converge in orbit around Pahvo. We had the growing concern that something was happening to Stamets’ (Anthony Rapp) physiology from exposure to the Spore Drive. We had the away team of Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), Saru (Doug Jones), and Tyler (Shazad Latif), really underestimate the Pahvans want to bring harmony so they send a message to the Klingons for peace talks. Also while all this is happening you have Cornwell (Jayne Brook) and L’Rell’s (Mary Chieffo) team up to escape the Sarcophagus, only to be captured on the way out. So now the Sarcophagus is hurtling towards Pahvo, which can in no way defend itself, with only the USS Discovery the one ship the Federation can’t afford to lose standing in their way. Well this week the episode starts with Starfleet telling Lorca (Jason Isaacs) to get out of there because they can’t risk losing the ship, it is the logical thing to do, well you know us Humans, that is like a metaphorical red flag to a bull, oh you better believe we are about to get all illogical up in this place. Now a quick reminder that as per usual there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.
So tonight’s mid-season finale is written by Erika Lippoldt & Bo Yeon Kim, now Erika and Be Yeon have been executive story editors all season and you can kind of see that intimate knowledge of the characters and the story all throughout the episode. For example, and yes I did say there would be [SPOILERS] so this is your last chance to leave if you have not seen the episode, they know which characters would be excited by seeing a Klingon ship explode, who would be disconcerted, and who would be prioritising other things over savouring a moment of victory. We also see that in the characters interact with each other, which we will talk about a bit later. With an episode like this, you have to tie up a number of hanging story threads, whilst also creating new issues that feel organic and not forced, that is a hard job to pull off and I think tonight’s episode did.
Another thing that I really did enjoy is how the cinematographer Glen Keenan really wanted to show off these wonderfully detailed sets with these zooming long pans. No they are not the long single take shots that have people pontificate over, yes I am including myself in that group, but as that camera swings across the set and focuses on Sonequa Martin-Green so she can give the best ‘I’m going to wreck you’ face of the season, I was completely engrossed. The action sequences themselves were quite good, you can tell that they are working on a TV budget, and there are a lot of cuts, nevertheless, you can always tell what is happening during the fights which are a step up from a lot of films these days. One area that I also want to talk about is the score by Jeff Russo. For me one of the big components of a show/film/game is the music, indeed maybe I talk about it a bit too much at times. On an emotional level if the music resonates with me it can suck me into this world, however, while so far this season the music has been good, this is the first episode where it made an emotional connection with me. For me it started with a single violin while Cornwell getting through to Tyler, then as we come back to Stamets in the Spore Drive, more strings are added as the music builds which highlights the bond between him and Culber (Wilson Cruz). It was such a beautiful moment, made that much better with the musical score, and talking about beautiful moments, that shuttle bay scene, wow.
Without a doubt, one of the highlights of the episode for me was both the character performances and the progression of character arcs. For Burnham today we get to see the conclusion somewhat of a redemption arc for her. At the start of the season in the Battle of the Binary Stars (see review) she committed mutiny, and even though it was for the right logical reasons, it was still mutiny, it still led or contributed to the deaths of thousands, and directly led to the death of her captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh). By this episode, I think she has come to terms with her past which we see when she respectfully questions Lorca’s decision not to take her, but also when she literally reclaimed the psychical manifestation of her captain, in the form of her insignia badge. This is also an episode that deals with some of the horrors of warfare and what happens to prisoners of war, and is literally happening around the world today as we speak. Tyler over the months of his incarceration was physically and sexually abused by L’Rell. Now Star Trek has touched a little bit on themes like this with episodes like: The Siege of AR-558, It’s Only a Paper Moon & Nor the Battle to the Strong. However, this is the first time it has really delved into how far are people willing to go to survive, and the legacy those decisions have on their lives. Also, the scenes between Tyler and Cornwell in the heart of the Sarcophagus were raw and unsettling at times. This was the first gut punch of the episode the other was watching as Culber saw the love of his life hurting himself to save others, and there was nothing he could do about it. Now there is a key reason why all of this matters, and this is because the writers, directors, and actors have created characters that I care about, and if they didn’t there would be no reason why I would be getting emotional about them, if they were just going through the motions.
Now while I did enjoy the episode, there were a couple is small issues that I had with it. Firstly, to be fair, even though I tried to avoid spoilers, some less than nice person on Twitter spoiled what happened to Stamets, I mean could you have waited a couple of hours for the rest of the world to see it, sorry I digress. So I can’t say for sure that this didn’t have an impact, but it did feel like they super foreshadowed what was going to happen to him, ‘this is my last jump’, ‘we’ll have a lot of spare time together soon’ he might as well said that he was ‘two days away from retirement’. As well as this, from the framing, I can’t tell if we are meant to be concerned with what coordinates Lorca types into his console before the final jump, or if it was nothing. Also, I have really been liking Tilly (Mary Wiseman) and hopefully we will get to see more of her in the upcoming Chapter Two.
So the big question that we are left pondering for a couple of months is where did the Destiny end up at the end of the episode? Did it jump to somewhere else in the galaxy, the same place but a different time, or even a different timeline, let me know what you think in the comments below. Well, in the end, do we recommend Into the Forest I Go? yes of course we do, and I for one can’t wait until January to see Chapter Two unfold.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
Have you seen Star Trek Discovery yet?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Trailer – Click Here to View (all trailers have heavy spoilers)
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Star Trek Discovery
Directed by – Chris Byrne
Written by – Erika Lippoldt & Bo Yeon Kim
Based off – Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry
Created by – Bryan Fuller & Alex Kurtzman
Starring in Season 1 – Sonequa Martin-Green, Doug Jones, Shazad Latif, Anthony Rapp, Mary Wiseman & Jason Isaacs with Michelle Yeoh, James Frain, Jayne Brook, Chris Obi, Mary Chieffo, Rainn Wilson, Kenneth Mitchell, Rekha Sharma, Damon Runyan, Clare McConnell & Wilson Cruz