I'm not ashamed to admit I have been highly entertained by the most recent season of Star Trek: Discovery. It's had refreshing dilemmas, positive introductions, and pushed the envelope with a cast that has weathered some pretty amazing adventures.
That being said, Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 Episode 13 isn't the finale I would've wished for it.
I think the main problem is that, where there should've been an A plot and a B plot with the B plot -- whether it was The Chain or The Burn -- taking a secondary position by being wrapped up before the finale, they chose to give both plots equal priority here.
This created too much resolution to fit comfortably into a single offering when they're constantly segueing between the two stories
On the one hand, we have the mystery of The Burn, a cataclysmic event that wreaked tragedy across the galaxy and obliterated the tenuous balance the Federation had been maintaining.
Taken from stem to stern, it's actually a very elegantly laid out puzzle.
First, there's the Khi'eth's distress signal, contorted into music by subspace interference, which worked its way into the subconscious of a multitude of species over generations and became a source of comfort as a traditional lullaby, tying together disparate races.
Saru: Outside can be challenging...
Saru: ...but it is also beautiful. And diverse. And filled with wonder.
Only a crew traveling between worlds (not, as it were, sheltering in place like most post-Burn ships and fleets) would have the opportunity to recognize that common tune.
Then, there are the black boxes of Burn-ed starships scattered through junk heaps and salvage yards which needed to be scavenged for.
Combined with the data from Ni'Var, hard-won with hard truths, the black boxes led the Burn-hunters to the Verubin Nebula and Su'Kal, a polyploid survivor of the Khi'eth crew.
Being traumatically orphaned at a young age and then spending over a century with nothing but holographic tutors and companions would mess with anyone. Su'Kal is no exception.
Saru's attempts to connect with the only Kelpien he's met since traveling to this future is a study in patience and understanding.
Even in fear, Su'Kal, you can still step forward.Saru
Since the Kelpiens have evolved beyond vahar'ai at this point, it's interesting to note that his default survival instinct is to live in fear despite the lack of any real threat.
All of these happenings in the nebula, including the happy accident of Gray's physicality, could've been handily dealt with in its own episode, allowing us to really absorb the devastating nature of Su'Kal's existence and really worry about the away team.
It would've also given them time to allow Culber to find some evidence for his assertions that Su'Kal wouldn't trigger another Burn if he left the dilithium planet.
Instead, he just states it as fact, and we're expected to accept it as such.
If it were me, I'd assume that if his emotions resonate through subspace at the exact vibration of dilithium, he'd be a danger as long as he's in proximity to any warp-capable ship, including those in Starfleet or the Kelpien fleet.
But, then, I'm not a doctor or a genius human host of a very experienced Trill symbiont. So, yeah, suspend that disbelief, my friends. You'll want to hang it high.
Wanting is not the same as doing.Su'Kal
Unfortunately, instead of giving this story of trust overcoming fear and trauma the elbow room it really needed, it gets squeezed in with the action movie happening over on Discovery.
And while I previously predicted the sphere data would be the deus ex machina that saved the day -- it did save Owo, mind you -- it's Burnham who (once again) saves the day by (almost literally) being reborn out of the data core's programmable matter in time to put an end to Osyraa.
(Cue the "ding dong, the witch is dead" musical number.)
But, here's the thing, would someone as thorough and established as Osyraa really expect Burnham to just succumb to the nano-matter?
Wouldn't someone who has killed as many and as ruthlessly as Osyraa is reputed to have done insist on making sure her nemesis was dead? And what crime boss leaves their victim with a weapon in their hand?
Orion hearts have six valves. Blood flows in both directions. They are so much more complex than human hearts.Osyraa
The turbo-lift sequences were neat, I'll admit. A little long, but they were also the humor breaks, what with Book's adrenaline high and Zareh's archetypal villain thing and all.
And while we're suspending our disbelief, if the plan were to use Book to navigate the spore drive, why did they need to eject the warp core to blow their way out of the Viridian?
Since the mycelial network is another dimension, shouldn't they just be able to drop into it from anywhere?
I must have skipped that chapter in the technical manual.
You were the one that wrestled with how to be what this time requires of us. And you challenged me to do the same.Vance
In any case, what it all comes down to is that, against all the odds, counter to most logic, and defying narrative norms, Michael Burnham, Starfleet's First Mutineer, finally made captain.
And it only took her 933 years.
Of course, that's not the end of the story. There are a lot of loose ends left over for the next season to build on.
Tilly's probably traumatized by her time with the con. She lost the ship to a pirate queen and nearly watched her bridge crew suffocate in front of her. She'll need some therapy and a pep talk.
Stamets is still bitter at Burnham for what she put him through. Vance telling him that she made the right move probably didn't help. With Book able to navigate the spore drive and Tilly presumably still looking into dark matter navigation methods, I wonder if he'll finally transfer ships.
Disconnection. That's how this future began. One moment in time. It radiated outward until no one even remembered that connection was possible anymore. But it is. The need to connect is at our core as sentient beings. It takes time, effort, and understanding. Sometimes, it feels impossible. But if we work at it, miracles can happen.Burnham
Is the sphere data stuck in the DOT-23s now? No, that can't be right. We know that it evolves into the Discovery computer of "Calypso". Even so, it's nice to know the maintenance drones are a mobile option, despite being a little flimsy.
How are they going to give Gray a body again? I'd like to think it's as easy as getting the Kelpiens to share their holo tech as it was Dr. Isa's program that gave him form on the Khi'eth.
In these strange times we're living through, watching Star Trek: Discovery online has been a grand escape with some delightful diversions.
So it's probably a little ungrateful for me to complain that the finale was too much for a single serving and yet not enough to satisfactorily conclude the season and answer my questions.
Still, I'll be here when they return to see how they fly in this new context. Will you?
And can we all agree that those uniforms are hella-awful?
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.