Well, here it is. The season finale of Star Trek: Discovery. And as Michelle Yeoh promised in an interview I did with her this week, we went to Kronos.
What surprised me most about “Will You Take My Hand” is that, for such an eventful episode, and a season finale, there were so many great quiet moments. The scenes between Ash and Michael (especially as Michael finally revealed how her parents died), the whispers between Michael and Saru, the discussion between Sarek and Michael. For being an episode that moved the series forward so broadly, the writers never forgot to allow these moments for the viewers (and the characters) to catch our breath. It’s one of the reasons I like the storytelling so much in this show.
The good and the bad: Tying up loose ends
I’m not sure if this is tied to the emotion of being sad that the show is over, but I felt like this finale tied everything up in an awfully tidy way. It’s somewhat uncharacteristic for a show that revels in real-life messiness. That being said, I have a feeling repercussions from these events will reverberate throughout the second season (in other words, it’s not all as neat as it seems). Plus I can understand wanting to wrap up the narrative, just in case the show wasn’t renewed for a second season (but thankfully, that did not happen).
Many viewers have been waiting for the return of Mia Kirshner as Amanda Grayson, and she was absolutely wonderful in this episode. She was only in a couple of scenes, but she — and her fabulous wardrobe — stole the show every time she was on screen.
It was so rewarding to hear Sarek call Michael his daughter, and for him to admit that Starfleet was wrong. That whole secret bomb plot felt a little bit like The Next Generation to me in the best way. It shows that Starfleet isn’t perfect and their desperation could drive them to terrible things. It also really shows in a powerful way the toll that the nine months the Discovery was in the Mirror Universe took.
Michelle Yeoh was just fabulous in this episode, and you could tell she enjoys playing this diabolical character. The exchange between her and Saru was priceless; here was this woman who looked exactly like the mentor he lost, and yet he will not crumble before her. I really hope (and think) we will see her again in the next season.
And how great was Tilly?? She was the one who figured the whole thing out.
Ash and Michael got some closure in this episode. It’s nice to see Ash reconnecting with the person he was and accepting who he has become. He seems to be in a better place now. Watching his confidence in action was great, and I think he made a good decision going with L’Rell at the end of the episode. After all, he doesn’t have a place in Starfleet anymore, but perhaps he can do some good with the Klingons. I’m guessing we’ll see him again next season.
Speaking of L’Rell, Mary Chieffo is a gift, and she was on fire in this finale. I’m so intrigued to watch her rise to unite the Klingons. Perhaps her rule is what will finally usher in the Cold War era of the Federation’s relationship with the Klingon Empire, which is what’s depicted in The Original Series.
Looking ahead to Season 2
No more spore drive! Stamets has made clear that Starfleet has ordered the engine dismantled until they can figure out how to use it without a human in the driver’s seat. That means that it won’t be the deus ex machina of the next season, which I appreciate. That being said, we haven’t really seen much more about the spore planet. Remember that spore that landed in Tilly’s shoulder a few episodes ago? I wonder if there’s a Season 2 plotline that will address both of these (and the return of Hugh, as Wilson Cruz insists he’s not finished with the show yet).
Michael's reinstatement into Starfleet was a great move. She's proven herself over and over, as well as her commitment to the organization's principles. Not only that, but she recognizes now that she made a mistake in her original actions, committing mutiny in order to save her crew. It also reintegrates her into a crew, rather than continuing to make her an outsider.
It looks like Saru won't be the captain of the Discovery going forward. It's not clear whether the new captain is Vulcan or the captain is just stationed on/visiting Vulcan for some reason. But either way, this is a very interesting turn.
The twist at the end of the episode — an encounter with the USS Enterprise under the command of Captain Pike — is fascinating. After all, if I’m remembering correctly, someone at New York Comic Con asked if we’d be seeing Spock in this show, and we were told, flat out, “no” — I think it came from Akiva Goldsman, an executive producer. Yet Spock is the first officer of the Enterprise at this point, hence the poignant look between Sarek and Michael. I think the writing staff is willing to tell a fib or two in order to protect the show’s twists and turns, and to be honest, I am fine with that.
All in all, this was a stellar first season of a show that took risks at every turn, yet made sure they paid off. Even when I didn’t like decisions (the Mirror Universe, the death of Hugh Culber), I knew I could trust the writing staff to lead me on a journey. And honestly, at this point I’m along for the ride wherever they take me. It’s going to be a really long wait for the second season.