Star Trek: Discovery Season Finale Recap: Klingons Are Animals

Photo: Jan Thijs/CBS
Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek: Discovery

Will You Take My Hand? Season 1 Episode 15
Editor's Rating 2 stars

This has been bothering me since last week’s episode, and I’ve just got to get it off my chest before I start talking about what bothered me about tonight’s finale (I’M FUN): Georgiou explained the Klingon threat as being “like a cancer,” and said they have to attack it at the source, but that is straight-up not how cancer works! One of the biggest problems with cancer is that it spreads!

There’s really no way around this: Tonight was a bad finale! Discovery has had occasional moments, but overall it’s been shaky as hell. It often felt like the showrunners were asking the viewers to trust that the weird choices would eventually be justified by the end of the season, but that just has not been the case. I spent a lot of the night grumbling over Georgiou’s increasingly-less-accurate claims about nature and animals and warfare because it was easier than trying to deal with the final wrap-up. Like when she told the bridge crew, “Klingons are animals. They don’t have homes,” and I yelled at the screen, “Animals have homes, famously! Like, birds live in nests, and foxes live in dens, and everything! What are you talking about?”

I know what you’re going to say: “But Mallory, Tilly put her wig back on in this episode. That’s got to count for something, right?” And to that I say: “Did she?” Yes, Georgiou pulled at her hair, pronounced it “horrible,” and in the next shot Tilly was wearing her hair straight. But look again! The Mirrorverse wig was a sleek, blown-out strawberry blonde number that was at least a few inches shorter than her natural hair. I must have rewound the Mad Max Hallway Fashion Show scene four times, and I’m positive Tilly just ran a straightener through her own hair, threw in an over-the-ear braid, and called it a day.

Then there’s a lot more excavating of the warped mother-daughter dynamics between Michael and Georgiou, which I could do without for two reasons:

1. The amount of sexual tension between Mirror Georgiou and Michael is … let’s go with non-zero. Sure, part of that is because every Mirrorverse character is characterized primarily via Murderous Horniness (as evidenced when Georgiou takes a quick detour to have a threesome on Qo’noS), but there’s a lot going on between the two of them in all of their scenes.

2. The original Georgiou and Michael did not have that sort of relationship in the least! They were deeply fond of one another and Georgiou taught Michael a great deal, but Michael had a solid relationship with both of her parents and met Georgiou well into her own adulthood. There’s plenty of grist for the mill in terms of wanting to redeem herself and struggling for the approval of a lost mentor without adding Murder Mommy dynamics into the mix.

For some reason, Georgiou and Michael try to beat some useful information out of L’Rell before, obviously, failing, and only then going to Ash, who is equally useful when it comes to providing up-to-date information about Qo’noS and totally willing to help them. They beam down to an Orion outpost on a remote part of Qo’noS, only for Tilly to discover that their supposed mapping mission is in fact a direct attack: Georgiou has dropped a bomb (that’s mapped to her bioprint, for some reason) directly into the volcanic network under the surface and is primed and ready to destroy the entire planet.

Meanwhile, Michael tells Ash the story of her parents’ death. It’s all her fault, naturally, because she begged her parents to extend a vacation for a few days so she could watch a star collapse. The Klingons invaded, killed her parents while she hid in a cupboard, then sat down to eat the dinner they’d already prepared. (“Wouldn’t the Klingons have seen there were three places set at the table, and rightly assume there was another family member they had to kill?” my friend Norah very sensibly asked.)

Michael is against this whole “blow up the entire Klingon homeworld plan,” naturally, so she leads the Discovery in a very low-energy round of mutiny. Which I have no problem with! That makes a great deal of sense for her character! Here’s what I do have a problem with: She’s horrified to discover that Cornwell and the rest of the Starfleet brass condoned Georgiou’s genocidal tactics, but immediately drops all of that once they manage to defuse the bomb. Michael’s father casually admits that he was complicit in the plan to destroy an entire planet, and her response is essentially, “Hey, you were stressed out at the time.” This is a deeply principled person! If she felt strongly enough about this plan to mutiny for a second time, given how much pain it caused her to have done so the first time, then why don’t Cornwell and Sarek’s actions merit an after-the-fact investigation and court-martial? Why is she so excited to rejoin Starfleet now that she knows the top command is willing to seek planetary extinction? Moreover, why is everyone so confident that handing the bomb’s controls over to L’Rell will mean peace for the Federation? Sure, she’s more interested in Klingon unification than the war, but she certainly didn’t commit to any anti-war principles. We’ve spent very little time with the Klingons overall this season, but what we have seen has been uniformly and uncomplicatedly “Klingons want to murder everyone in Starfleet and crunch their bones,” so it’s less than heartening to see L’Rell armed with a planet-destroying device and the 24 houses at her feet, even though it’s played as a triumphant moment for cultural pluralism.

Georgiou runs off into the night, almost certainly to commit further atrocities. Stamets stays in the background, not doing much, because Starfleet has seemingly decided to abandon the mycelial network in favor of a “non-human interface.” Which: WHAT? This is some of the most important technology discovered in 100 years, and it works, and they’re just, “Nah, warping’s fine?” OKAY THEN.

Everyone has apparently decided to forget Lorca ever existed, which is fine. Ash, who’s previously said all he wants is to go home and live a peaceful life, suddenly decides to join L’Rell (who is still his abuser, regardless of whether or not a latent Voq existed in his body at the time) to see if he can help do … what, exactly? Teach Klingons about harm reduction? I don’t know, man. I’m just glad it’s over. In the episode’s final few moments, the Discovery intercepts an emergency distress call from Captain Pike. I’m already looking forward to yelling at my screen again next season.

Star Trek: Discovery Finale Recap: Klingons Are Animals