With Star Trek: Discovery‘s second season now in the can, the question on everyone’s minds is what comes next? Part 2 of the action-packed finale – titled “Such Sweet Sorrow” – saw the USS Discovery and her crew transported to the far future (as we were the first to report a few weeks ago) after a massive battle with Control and all records of the ship stricken from the record.
“Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2” Episode Recap
First, a few words about this episode. Like most two-parters, the season finale felt slightly padded out, stretching quiet character moments (Spock and Burnham, Stamets and Culber, Pike and Cornwell, etc.) to interminable length and throwing absolutely everything else at the wall. I hope you like explosions, sparks, and Star Wars prequel levels of indecipherably dense visual effects shots, because that was about 90 per cent of the episode. Shout-out to Discovery’s production design team for bringing back the beloved exploding consoles full of rocks though; truly a tried and true Trek tradition.
The entire affair played out not like a typical Star Trek season finale, but rather some combination of Interstellar, The Terminator, and the classic Next Generation episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise” – while baldly ripping off entire sequences from 2001: A Space Odyssey (the Stargate sequence) and Inception (the zero-g hotel fight). The space battle, which lasts almost the entire hour-plus runtime, saw the Discovery and the Enterprise fighting side by side against an AI controlled fleet of drones and capital ships until Burnham could do her timey wimey Red Angel stuff. It sure was nice to see the Enterprise using those classic blue phaser beams from The Original Series, but the sequence heavily borrowed the twisting, turning visual language of the J.J. Abrams films, which can only be described as overwhelming and boring at the same time.
We don’t see what becomes of Discovery and her crew, but Spock, Pike, and the Enterprise receive a nice send-off at the end of this episode (hey, it’s always nice to see the Big E in drydock). This extended farewell has that backdoor pilot feel and really only serves to remind viewers that Captain Pike and company are not going to be around next season. Oh well. That and the fact that Ethan Peck’s Spock probably should have kept his beard!
So what comes next for Star Trek: Discovery?
We previously reported that the time jump that closes out season two would thrust Discovery roughly 500 years ahead from the pre-Original Series setting timeline the show currently inhabits to centuries after Voyager and the Next Generation films. Burnham mentions 950 years at one point in the episode, which lines up with the setting of the “Calypso” Short Trek episode that depicted the USS Discovery adrift and abandoned in the 33rd century, but even she stated how unpredictable the journey to the future could be. So where – or rather when do they end up? After the finale aired, showrunner Alex Kurtzman confirmed to the Hollywood Reporter that the time jump would indeed be 950 years in the future, placing the show centuries after any other Star Trek show. So our prediction was right, but the number of years was off!
As we previously wrote, the outcome of this season’s time travel arc makes sense both creatively and canonically for the showrunners of Discovery. The series is sandwiched between two other shows in Star Trek history – Enterprise and The Original Series – and it was already butting up against the latter with the appearance of the USS Enterprise and the inclusion of characters like Pike and Spock. By jumping the ship and the show into the uncharted territory that is the 33rd century or beyond – a completely unexplored time period in Star Trek canon – the showrunners then won’t have to spend so much time retconning established events, characters, and technology to explain away differences in production values or appearances. And now that they’ve answered the question of why no one talks about Spock’s sister or the spore drive or a ship called Discovery, longtime Trek fans will likely be somewhat satisfied. We’re nothing if not suckers for in canon explanations that attempt to make sense of nearly 60 years of continuity.
The time jump also opens up new creative frontiers for the show’s writers. Stranding the USS Discovery in the future where the United Federation of Planets and Starfleet may not even exist anymore essentially turns the show into “Time Voyager”. The show can finally go where no one has gone before – again – without having to worry about stepping on the toes of previous captains and crews. Discovery‘s writers will be more free to tell their own stories, unconstrained by established canon. It’s an all new galaxy to explore!
We were ultimately let down by season two of Star Trek: Discovery, but we still think this is an exciting new direction for the series for many of the reasons listed above. The second season started off strongly, but as the season continued major character issues kept cropping up and the quality of the stories began to wane slightly as the show focused on setting the table for the big finale, which turned out to be a huge mess. With that out of the way though – along with pretty much all of established Trek canon – the showrunners have created a new final frontier for the crew of Discovery and fans of the show to explore. Here’s hoping season three can slow things down a bit and do what past Star Trek shows have done so well: just see what’s out there.