Star Trek Discovery Season One Finale

The season one finale of Star Trek: Discovery brought the major arcs of the season to a satisfying conclusion, while also leaving us eager to see what happens next. Spoilers ahead!

Early in the episode, we see that Michael Burnham is not simply going to go along with Captain Georgiou from the Terran Empire, who says that her information is giving the Federation a fighting chance, and asks whether Michael is with her or against her. Michael says she is with her – but we see during the episode that Michael has learned from her earlier willingness to compromise her values and those of Starfleet. Ironically, in both instances she finds herself standing against her appointed captain, who is in both cases a Philippa Georgiou.

Dining on one’s enemies also features prominently in the series. L’Rell says that her lord T’Kuvma feasted on Philippa Georgiou, and so she cannot understand how Georgiou can be standing there alive before her. The notion of feasting on the flesh of the vanquished even comes up in the Bible – for instance in the “Marriage supper of the Lamb” in the Book of Revelation, at which the flesh of kings is served. In that scene, Georgiou beats L’Rell bloody, asking where her party should land. Michael says there’s another way, which turns out to be the knowledge that Tyler has thanks to Voq’s memories, which he can access. Georgiou calls Tyler/Voq a who-knows-what. But he knows of the geography of Kronos, and  in talking about this he recounts its intersection with religious history and events, including temples which were abandoned when Kahless defeated the one who was previously the focus of activity in them. But it turns out that old religions persist even when declared dead.

Tyler’s perspective and character is so very fascinating. He says that a human speaking Klingon is amazing to Klingons – like a dog on water skis. Tyler further opines that he can literally see both sides, and says in that context that he chooses to stand with Michael, a standpoint from which one can view an enemy with sympathy.

As the characters spend time on Kronos and encounter Klingons and Orions, we learn that the plan is to detonate a hydrobomb in an active volcano on Kronos, the result of which, we are told, would be “apocalyptic.” That was Georgious’s plan all along – perhaps not fully genocide, but close enough to it that it is not a route that Michael Burnham feels that she – or Starfleet – can go. When the admiral suggests that they do not have the luxury of such principles in that historical moment, Michael says that, on the contrary, that is all they have.

When Michael catches up with her, Georgiou emphasizes that she is nothing like Michael’s Georgiou, never was. There are no second chances. But it seems that, even though Michael says something to the same effect, there are at the very least opportunities for decisive moral action and for redemption. Michael has brought L’Rell there, to offer her a chance to save her planet and lead the Klingons in a different direction. Tyler chooses to go with L’Rell, hoping to do good for both sides. He tells Michael that her capacity for love literally saved his life. They hug, and kiss. On the one hand, we might ask whether his leaving of the rope that he tied and spoke about earlier in the episode, as something he did to remind himself of his human childhood and identity, means that he is leaving those things behind. On the other hand, in the very act of embracing the Klingon within him in order to influence the Klingons in a different direction, we see a commitment to Starfleet’s (and thus Tyler’s) values.

Towards the end of the episode, there are significant moments in which Michael speaks with her adoptive human mother about embracing her humanity, and also in which Sarek tells Michael that she has had her record expunged by the Federation, she is reinstated as commander Burnham.

In a speech to Starfleet leadership, Michael says that there are no shortcuts on the path to righteousness. Tilly is accepted to command training and Saru becomes the first Kelpian to be honored as he is.

At the very end, a priority one distress call reaches the Discovery as they are in warp towards Vulcan. It is from Captain Pike on the U.S.S. Enterprise. The credits for the episode then follow, accompanied by the end credits music from the Original Series, and that was really rather powerful. It may just be the fact that I watched the episode after coming home from a concert in which John Williams conducted his own music from Star Wars, Jaws, ET, Hook, BFG, Harry Potter, and more, but the musical meaning of this finale carried significant weight with me.

Those of a certain age will also associate the final image from the episode with a famous historical encounter of two space vessels named Discovery and Enterprise

What did you think of the season finale of Star Trek: Discovery, “Will You Take My Hand,” and the season’s story arc as a whole?

 

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  • Marcia Culligan

    I made a critical comment about the tone and nature of the series awhile back, and I am prepared to take it back now. I see that the spirit of Trek has been exhalted at the end, and I have some renewed faith in where the series and its creators have been and are taking us.

  • L. Bukys

    I don’t see any cannibalism in the book of Revelation. Would you like to cite something specific?

    • Sorry, I assumed that my reference to Revelation 19:17-18 would be recognizable to most readers. I should have made the reference explicit and provided a link for those less familiar with the book. I do apologize!

      http://biblehub.com/revelation/19-18.htm

      • I think I would distinguish the wedding supper of the Lamb, Rev 19:7-9, from the carrion bird’s supper of Rev 19:17-18.

        • You may be right – the birds seem to be the ones invited to the “great supper of God,” but coming as it does in between references to the wedding supper of the Lamb, depicted as one whose robe is dipped in blood and is setting forth to strike down the nations, it is somewhat ambiguous.

  • John MacDonald

    It’s interesting how Kahless contrasts with Jesus in TNG. Kahless concludes that what is important, when he discovers he is a clone, is that the important thing is that he is a conduit for the original Kahless’ message (while many Christians hang their hats on the the actual return of the original Jesus). Kahless says:

    “Kahless left us, all of us, a powerful legacy. A way of thinking and acting that makes us Klingon. If his words hold wisdom and his philosophy is honorable, what does it matter if he returns? What is important is that we follow his teachings. Perhaps the words are more important than the man.”

  • Johannes Richter

    It dialed the progressiveness to almost full blast, but in the end this series really rewarded the faith of fans. Conservatives, thee of little faith, found Lorca too distasteful and the show’s apparent diversions from Starfleet ideals and protocol unacceptable. But the showruners took a wide trajectory (perhaps forced at times) in order to zero in on Starfleet’s traditional values in the end. They highlighted by contrast – kissing, swearing and breaking rules – to show us WHY it values those values.

    • Thanks for writing this comment – I think you sum the matter up really well!

  • I loved this first season. They have brought Trek in the 21st Century. And they had fun along the way. I grew to love the characters, the ship and a new part of the Trek universe.