I always get emotional watching Star Trek: Discovery episodes, but “Such Sweet Sorrow” really tugged at my heartstrings. I have absolutely loved watching the Discovery crew become a family, and this episode encapsulated that very idea.
It’s interesting how the mid-season Short Treks have factored into this season’s storytelling. If you didn’t catch them (and were wondering where in the world the flashbacks to Tilly and Po came from), these were 20-minute standalone mini-episodes released in between Seasons 1 and 2. Except it turns out these weren’t so standalone after all — we followed up on Saru’s origin story, told in the short “The Brightest Star,” in this season’s “The Sound of Thunder.” Now we’re continuing the story that started in “Runaway,” in which the future queen of Xahea stows away aboard the ship because she’s not ready to assume the rule of her planet.
She makes another appearance in “Such Sweet Sorrow” for two reasons: First, she created technology to re-crystalize dilithium, a necessary power source for what Discovery is going to attempt, and second, because a red signal appears over Xahia. And it looks like Po is coming along for whatever ride this ship is on.
The only solution, then, is to use the time crystal to take the entire ship to the future. And because the Red Angel suit is keyed to Michael’s mother’s bioneural signature, Michael herself must be the one to do it. This answers the question of where the red signals were coming from: Michael herself must have been using the Red Angel suit to draw Discovery’s attention.
Michael makes the tough decision that she’s going to do this on her own, and of course the crew won’t let her. In a touching scene that made me cry, a skeleton crew decides to stay behind and help Michael accomplish the mission. “Committing to a life amongst the stars is in itself a resolution to leave some things behind,” my favorite Saru says so eloquently.
Interestingly, Spock is staying aboard Discovery, sticking with Michael and seeing the mission through. In some ways, I wish he had gone, because it would leave some mystery as to what was to come. But because he’s aboard, we know the ship won’t stay in the future, where it’s jumping to. At least, not for long.
(Because I’m on brand, I’m never going to let a Sarek and Amanda appearance go unmentioned in these recaps; y’all know by now how much I love them. One thing I appreciate about Discovery, though, is that they will bring back actors even just for small appearances when it makes sense. And their daughter, and son, jumping into the future without any foreseeable way to return? It makes sense that parents would want to say goodbye.)
However, there are two important people who don’t stay behind: Captain Pike says his goodbyes to the crew. He left his mark on the ship and on the audience, but in the end, we knew his time aboard Discovery would be brief. He returns to the Enterprise, and I’m sad to see him go. Handsome Dad provided a levity the show really needed, and the dynamics of the crew really solidified under his leadership. Anson Mount played the role so well; I hope we’ll see him again aboard Discovery.
It’s hard to believe that we’ll have to wait a year or more for additional Discovery episodes after next week. This second season has been so strong and so good, it’s hard to imagine what my days will be like without this show to look forward to. The question is, will the writers leave us on a cliffhanger? Another Short Trek, “Calypso,” gave us a glimpse of the ship long into the future, where it’s under orders to hide itself for all of eternity. Maybe that’s where this is leading? The crew may return but might have to leave the ship in the future. (If the argument is that the show’s name is Discovery, so they obviously can’t lose the ship, well, there are multiple ships named Enterprise.) My heart is not ready for this season finale, but one thing is for sure: It’s going to be great.