USS Discovery

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow Part One—Discovery Starts Saying its Goodbyes

Marie Brownhill
Game Industry News is running the best blog posts from people writing about the game industry. Articles here may originally appear on Marie's blog, Fan Collective Unimatrix 47.

Continuing in the Star Trek tradition of making references to the greats, the episode’s title comes from Romeo and Juliet, Act II, scene II, in which Juliet bids Romeo goodbye while promising to see him again the coming day. There’s certainly a great deal of that in this episode. Summarizing everything that happens here would eat up far too many column inches, so I’m just going to link to the Memory Alpha recap. Largely, the episode centers around preparing for a “new plan” since the Sphere Data will not allow the crew to destroy the Discovery. Apparently, the data have merged with the ship’s systems, meaning that the data will act to ensure their survival. Point of grammatical order: “data” referring to information is actually a plural noun, no matter how Saru treats the Sphere Data as a single entity. Thus, the crew that has already evacuated to the waiting Enterprise must now come up with a new plan, and plot, they do. Initially, Burnham plans to sacrifice herself, taking the ship through the wormhole alone, but she fails to account for the loyalty of her compatriots. The series regulars collectively decide to return to the Discovery in order to use the time crystal procured by Pike and Dr. Burnham’s time suit to open up a wormhole into the future through which they will take Discovery and the Sphere Data to keep both out of the clutches of Control. The rest of the episode concerns general preparations for the series regulars to man the Discovery at the expense of everything they have ever known. The episode thus allows for a theoretical balance between action sequences and emotional beats.

Let’s talk about the parts that work. A new red signal leads both the Discovery and the Enterprise to Xahea, where they encounter Me Hani Ika Hali Ka Po, a familiar face from Tilly’s Short Trek, “Runaway,” and Yadira Guevara-Prip is as charming now as she was then. Admittedly, she’s a bit of a walking plot device because her technological breakthrough is the only means by which the crew can supercharge the time crystal. Tig Notaro’s Jett Reno is still as deadpan snarky as she has been throughout the series, and her decision to remain onboard the Discovery for this most excellent adventure gives me hope that we’ll see more of her character in season three. Georgiou, too, appears to have chosen to remain on the Discovery with Michael, which, assuming nothing happens in part 2 to return her to the Enterprise, makes me wonder about the future of her series. I’m still crossing my fingers because I am HERE for a Michelle Yeoh-led, Georgiou-centric series.
Ash Tyler confesses to Burnham that he’ll remain in the current time, and while their parting should be more impactful, the show hasn’t really known what to do with him since the beginning of this season. I wish Shazad Latif well going forward, but I’m not going to miss either Tyler or the terrible hair. I will miss Mia Kirshner’s Amanda, however, but I am somewhat glad that both she and Sarek have a chance to bid Michael farewell, even if I’m not entirely sure I buy into the episode’s heavy leaning on Vulcan mind-magic.

This brings me to the aspects of the episode that don’t work for me. Primarily, Spock’s decision to remain on the Discovery undercuts a great deal of the tension. We know that Spock will somehow remain in the current timeline because he has a wealth of history in canon, and the fact that Sarek and Amanda do not have an on-screen goodbye with Spock only serves to reinforce that issue. Thus, we’re clearly building toward a major tear-jerker moment in Part II, and I certainly hope it’s worth it. The Spock/Michael dynamic, while rocky at first in its realization, has become a major touchstone for season two, and with everything else that Part II must address, I worry that their goodbye will either a) take too much away from what will clearly be a busy episode or b) be entirely too short to be satisfying.

I am also concerned with the sheer number of hanging plot threads that have yet to be resolved. Control’s ships are still closing and will attack. There’s also the matter of Michael’s premonition regarding a photon torpedo embedded in the Enterprise hull, and let’s not forget that we’re still missing a few signals, meaning that by my count, Part II has to deal with at least two. With respect to character beats, Amanda’s willingness to say goodbye to Michael feels a little false. She’s demonstrated that she’s willing to break whatever laws she must to protect Spock, and while I realize there hasn’t been a great deal of resolution with respect to Michael’s decision to drive Spock away, the show positioned her as a fierce mama bear. She theoretically should be willing to try and dissuade both of her children from jumping so far into the future. Culber’s decision to stay on the Enterprise makes sense in light of his emotional turmoil, but as we know that Wilson Cruz is now a series regular, I wonder how the story will put him back on the Discovery and whether that aspect of the story will feel earned.

Lastly, the show appears to be providing some scientific basis for treating Burnham as the chosen Red Angel. As I have previously written, I don’t believe that this is a trope that needs to appear in the Star Trek franchise, the events of this episode give it more of a solid basis and integrate it better within the season as a whole. They did something similar last season, so one would think I’d have learned my lesson. With the fate of all life in quadrant hanging in the balance, I’m certainly excited for the conclusion.

Stray Thoughts from the Couch:

1. I was absolutely thrilled with the re-imagined bridge of the Enterprise. The set design balanced just the right amount of faith to the original with some subtle updating, and I confess, I’m more than a little sorry that we won’t see more of that in season three.
2. Speaking of regrets, I also wish we’d seen more of Rebecca Romijn’s Number One. Majel Barrett’s version received unfairly short shrift, and I feel a bit that Romijn’s is, as well.
3. While I was happy to see the return of the Enterprise uniforms, the asymetrical collar is strange. Yes, it’s a visual link between the old-school uniforms and the Discovery uniforms, but I still think it looks a touch off.
4. I’m still not certain what Admiral Cornwell is doing here. Are they just giving her a send-off? Should I expect something awful in the coming episode? I just don’t know.
5. Tilly is a better human being than I am. She records a touching message for her mother, whom we know to be terrible. Good for her.

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