Star Trek: Discovery
You know how some people listen to audiobooks at twice the normal speed? Because productivity, or whatever? Either I need to be watching Star Trek: Discovery at half its intended tempo, or the show itself has been playing at double speed from the jump. I don’t know about you, but I’ve felt like I needed to watch these episodes twice just to fully absorb what is happening on a minute-to-minute basis, let alone grasp the details for a recap. For an episode that took its sweet time getting from “we’re about to blow up the ship” to “whoops, that didn’t work, how about flinging it into the future?” — the meat of which can essentially be summed up as “the crew says good-bye for a full 45 minutes” — this week’s installment may also have been Discovery’s most exposition-heavy episode yet.
Yet like every bit of this accursed/beloved show, “Such Sweet Sorrow” does find a way to frustrate and delight me in equal measure. Because yes, my hopes and dreams from last week about sending this crew into the far future seem to suddenly be coming true, with the help of Me Hani Ika Hali Ka Po (Yadira Guevara-Prip), the Teen Queen of the Most Politically Relevant Planet in the Galaxy Xahea. We met Po in Tilly’s Short Treks episode “Runaway” last fall, in which Tilly meets stowaway Po as she attempts to flee her coronation, on account of being a genius who figured out how to recrystallize dilithium, the material that in its plasma form powers warp drives — and which is found in abundance on Xahea (making it easier to trade …? I think?). But back to that in a moment.
We begin where we left off last week: evacuating the Discovery onto the Enterprise. (Mercifully, the show keeps its fan-service horniness to a minimum and doesn’t linger too much on the contours of the ship that started it all.) Now that everyone is evacuating, Burnham, who definitely came up with the idea to blow up the ship, is having second thoughts about blowing up the ship. Why did the signal bring us to Boreth if not to indicate we needed to use the time crystal in some way? She touches the crystal — as Jett Reno does later (man, is everyone just dying to be driven mad by their own future?) — and sees a future in which Control has launched an unexploded torpedo (?) into the hull of the Enterprise and Leland kills every single bridge crew member on Discovery. Still pretty unclear as to how these future visions work, if they’re controvertible or what, but let’s go.
They all evacuate and initiate auto destruct from the bridge of the Enterprise … but nothing happens. They fire torpedoes at the Discovery, but the ship raises its own shields: duh, the Sphere data has merged with its host system, thus making the entire ship virtually indestructible. (I don’t remember Starfleet shields being impenetrable, but I guess we don’t have a lot of time or resources to burn here.) Burnham also realizes that the Enterprise firing torpedoes on the Discovery was part of her crystal prophecy and not real life, so she manages to stop them before they actually fire on the ship, in hopes of averting the Control slaughter she envisioned.
Long story short: Since they can’t blow up the ship, they’re gonna have to use the time crystal, build another Daedalus suit (which has to be worn by Michael, whose mitochondrial DNA makes her the only one compatible with its DNA-customized design) and use its wormhole to drag the Discovery into the far future.
Suddenly, as if on cue, a fifth signal appears — over Queen Po’s planet, Xahea. Po’s supersecret dilithium incubator something something, she’s gonna tweak her thing so it can make a tiny supernova, which will power the time crystal.
Before Po showed up, it was assumed Michael could essentially slingshot the ship into the future and then zap backwards, but the only way the Xahean queen’s proprietary magic box can make the crystal go is by giving it so much power that it’ll burn out after just one use, so this will be a one-way trip.
(Call me a philistine, but I’m not getting why this whole dilithium incubator, “using a waterfall to get a drink of water” thing was necessary to explain why this is a one-way trip. Wasn’t Dr. Burnham assumed dead for 20 years, and is gone again now, literally because she couldn’t return to the present without being yo-yoed back to the future where she jumped in the first place? Quantum mechanics!!! At least Reno’s simile also doubles as a great way to describe me trying to keep up with this episode.)
Michael is fully ready to go by herself, and bids a tearful farewell to Sarek and Amanda, who show up after Sarek senses, through meditation, Michael’s plans to leave forever. (Control has been blocking all relays that would allow the two ships to call for backup, but Spock and Michael’s parents use this intel to pop in on a shuttle, say “we love you,” and peace out, instead of, you know, notifying Starfleet of the insane, apocalyptic-ass shit going down here.)
But of course, this crew is a bunch of geeks who couldn’t possibly stand to let Burnham be the only one to abandon everyone and everything she’s ever known to go off and explore the super-final frontier of the future. The Overachieving Bridge Gang™ announces they’re coming, too, on the Discovery; Po, Nhan, Reno, and Spock are among the volunteers (though the last will obviously be short-lived, given he’s got an original series to catch). An unnecessary montage ensues, consisting of like five of them leaving messages for the families they’re about to abandon forever.
Minus a couple notable figures:
Pike is staying with the Enterprise. Seems like hitching a ride to the future would be a great way to avoid getting turned into human goo, but nay, he has accepted his fate, and attempts to hand over command to Saru — who oddly equivocates by suggesting they decide this later. (Could Saru really be getting ready to decline, despite the fact that he’s the best candidate? Who does he think he is, Will Riker??)
Ash Tyler is going to stay in the present to prevent Control from figuring out how to follow them into the future. Apparently he’s the only one “in the gray area” who can do this — is he really the only decent person with Section 31 training/resources? Don’t get me wrong, Shazad Latif is ludicrously good at crying and I am grateful for every lip-quivering second of it, but did we have to have another tearful good-bye between these two? When will this couple be allowed to be happy? Quand?
We leave the crew this week as the two ships’ crews ready themselves to battle Control’s fleet, to give the time-traveling crew time to finish Michael’s suit and properly outfit the Discovery for the jump. We’ve got armed shuttles, courtesy of Number One’s uncanny foresight! (Random notebook dump: “Number One is Space Hermione.”) We’ve got a time-crystal massacre vision to fight against! Will Michael successfully tow the gang into the future? Will we have to watch Leland shoot all our friends (a scene that was surprisingly upsetting to watch, even though it hasn’t happened yet)? Praying the finale gives us a little bit of expositional breathing room, given all that was set up this week. I for one could use a solid, straightforward cry.
Personal Log, Supplemental
• Oh, come on! “Discover your heart”?! The only way this line would have been acceptable would have been if it’d been delivered as an actual dad joke, in which everyone in hearing range audibly groaned at Pike’s all too on-the-nose good-bye speech to Burnham.
• Stamets officially closes the door on Culmets, to Culber’s visible dismay — Culber says he’s going to stay with the Enterprise, though I feel like this breakup might not stick yet, given (a) they both seem like they’re secretly dying for a reason to get back together, and (b) I expect Leonard “Bones” McCoy might have something to say about another doctor in his sick bay.
• I actually love Po as a character, but boy, did that line about outlawing snark in her presence feel like a personal attack! Even if it was aimed at Georgiou! I’m in this photo and I don’t like it!
• Questions that remain: Where does Tyler need to go that he can’t stay to help with the Disco-Jump fight? Why does Pike seem to already know Georgiou is Terran when she casually mentions it at the last possible second? Did Michael already tell him off camera? Is it … er, wise to allow Georgiou to come along to the future?