Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 15 Review – Will You Take My Hand?

star trek discovery title sequence hd will you take my hand review michael burnham

The parallels to the first episode are there, of course; it’s quite emphatic in its embrace of the cyclical structure. Where The Vulcan Hello saw Georgiou and Burnham saving a planet with a ‘water bomb’ to stop a drought, here they’re in conflict about using a steam device to destroy a planet; where Burnham once stood before a tribunal, she now stands before the Federation council. Over and over, there are echoes of the beginning, a reminder of the journey Discovery has been on. To borrow a phrase, it’s like poetry.

Taken together, it’s an effective piece of structural symmetry, particularly from a programme which has at times struggled with its form. But here it works, and it builds up to one central moment, something we can see that the show has been leading up to for some time: the definitive positioning of ideals over pragmatism, an embrace of Starfleet values and a rejection of the idea that they need to be compromised. Burnham’s speech to Admiral Cornwell – proving once more, if proof still were even needed, just how good Sonequa Martin-Green is in this role – is surely the defining moment of Star Trek: Discovery, the scene that makes it all work.

In that sense, then, Discovery does have a grand climax. It’s right there in the title, itself an allusion to the image we’ve seen each week as the show opens – a pair of hands, outstretched, reaching for one another. The connotations are clear, and the impact resounding; Star Trek: Discovery, despite the fumbles it made along the way, really does want to embrace the much vaunted spirit of optimism that’s so closely associated with the idea of Star Trek.

A review of the Star Trek: Discovery finale, which took me ages to write, but I was rather pleased with in the end. Not a perfect episode, nor a perfect season; I’m hoping to do a series retrospective at some point soon, but overall, I rather liked it.

(I never actually got around to that Star Trek retrospective, but I figure I might give it a go ahead of the next series.)

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 14 Review – The Battle Without, and the Battle Within

star trek discovery the war within the war without georgiou michelle yeoh michael burnham stamets saru doug jones anthony rapp sonequa martin green star trek review

It’s worth a word on the title, I think. What it refers to, largely, is obvious. The first part, “The Battle Without”, is easily understood; alluding to the past nine months, it signifies the Klingon war – the battle – without the USS Discovery to turn the tide. The Federation is no longer on the brink of war, but they’ve essentially lost it; arguably, this universe is now just as driven by strife and conflict as the Mirror Universe we just left. More abstractly, though, it denotes a lack – what are they “without”? In turn, then, it’s worth looking at this episode to see what’s absent.

What’s missing is Captain Lorca. Our attention is drawn to this at the beginning, with Sarek’s dramatic reminder of his death; it’s worth interrogating just why this line was delivered as it was, given it’s not a revelation for the Discovery crew or the audience. In essence, it’s a statement of intent, an indicator that this episode takes place in the shadow of Captain Lorca. Despite this, it’s oddly easy to forget, in fact, what’s missing; the crew gel so well in his absence, but then that’s also part of the point. There’s an emphasis on the Federation values, at least amongst the crew and on the ship; the scene shared between Tyler and the rest of the crew is telling in this regard, as is the terraforming to create new spores.

That is, at least, until Captain Lorca returns. Or a version of him, anyway: there’s an obvious parallel between installing mirror-Georgiou as the new Captain, and the ship under Lorca.

I quite liked this episode! And I quite liked this review, too. I think it’s a decent piece of writing.

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 13 Review – What’s Past is Prologue

star trek discovery what's past is prologue burnham lorca jason isaacs sonequa martin green mirror universe review

It’s difficult to say that the twist about Lorca’s identity works. Up to a point, that’s just a personal thing; I have long since gotten bored of identity reveals that rely on the idea that everything we know about a character has been a pretence. There’s a lack of nuance to it, and ultimately there’s a lack of nuance to the ‘real’ Lorca. He is, in the end, little more than a power-grabbing usurper with delusions of a destiny and a sexual obsession with Michael Burnham. It’s not so much that this casts a new light on everything we’ve seen already – it’s that everything we’ve seen already was entirely false.

Sure, there was interesting stuff that could have been done with this idea – but, at the same time, I’m starting to grow a little tired of that caveat. After a point, there’s little to be gained by focusing on what could have been done with the idea, when time after time Discovery makes the least interesting choice. Taking such a simplistic approach with this reveal diminishes Lorca’s character, and all the nuance and subtlety we’ve seen so far; it’s a waste of Jason Isaacs, to be frank, who gives a great performance but in the end is still limited by the constraints of the script. If all he’s given to do is sneering, snarling villain, the character can’t rise above that – and it’s a shame that such an interesting character as Lorca was reduced to this.

A much more negative review, because honestly, I was feeling a little frustrated at Discovery this week. I suspect my thoughts vis a vis Captain Lorca are an unpopular opinion, but I’m not sure.

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 12 Review – Vaulting Ambition

star trek discovery vaulting ambition captain lorca jason isaacs mirror universe dr culber fridging

Of course, though, there is one part of this episode that must be mentioned: Captain Lorca is, in fact, from the Mirror Universe, and he’s been manipulating Burnham and the crew of the Discovery throughout the series in the hopes of returning home to finish his coup.

I am in… well, no, I’m not in two minds about it. I just don’t particularly like the idea.

Mirror-Lorca has been something of a popular fan theory for a while now – second only really to ‘Ash Tyler is Voq’ in terms of how ubiquitous it was, but largely lacking in the same ancillary details to substantiate the idea. Indeed, more often than not, the idea that Lorca was from the Mirror universe was borne from a rejection of the idea that someone like him wouldn’t exist in the main universe – essentially a rejection of the nuances of the character, dismissing them because they were a bit different from the Star Trek captains we’ve seen before. Sure, there’s since been a couple of vague hints, but that’s largely always been the starting point.

In this review, I spoke largely about my trepidation about the mirror-Lorca reveal (spoilers, sorry) and my frustration at fridging Culber (again, sorry), particularly after the show had depicted itself as the ‘progressive’ Star Trek at last.

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 11 Review – The Wolf Inside

star trek discovery the wolf inside michael burnham ash tyler shazad latif sonequa martin green tv review analysis

It’s worth taking a moment to focus on and celebrate Shazad Latif here; playing a dual role is difficult under any circumstances, but he really excels here. Latif has given a very mannered performance up to this point, with a precise awareness of his performance; watching the façade slip, and seeing the distinction between Voq and Tyler begin to fall away, it becomes evident just how skilled he is.

With a lesser actor, it’d be easy to imagine this plotline not quite working – but Shazad Latif really elevates it, with a brilliantly nuanced performance underscoring just how painful this process is. Hopefully (and I do suspect this will be the case) we’ll get a chance to see him dive deeper into the dichotomy between Ash and Voq in future episodes. Surely Ash is still in there on some level, and I’ve little doubt that Shazad Latif will continue to pitch that duality perfectly.

My review of Star Trek: Discovery, which is mostly about how great Shazad Latif is, but also the show’s character work.

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Star Trek: Discovery Series 1 Episode 10 Review – Despite Yourself

star trek discovery despite yourself michael burnham sonequa martin green ash tyler voq shazad latif review jonathan frakes sean cochrane

One thing I’d not considered, and I must admit that’s a lapse, is that the Mirror Universe has the potential to be a really interesting milieu to explore in 2017 – especially given that we’re visiting the fascist Terran Empire. At this point, the concepts were only sketched in quite quickly (understandable, given Discovery had a lot of exposition to work through this week), but there’s a lot of different avenues to explore with the concept of a dark reflection. Hopefully, Discovery will be able to pick up on some of those ideas, and give us a new approach to the mirror universe.

In turn, I was glad that the story wasn’t wrapped up in this episode alone; there’s a lot of potential there, and it’ll be nice to see how things continue to develop. Presumably, at some point we’ll be set to actually meet the alternate Burnham or Lorca – and what’re the bets that we’ll see Emperor Georgiou at some point? There’s a sense that we might be about to establish a new status quo for Discovery, with these episodes acting as a pivotal turning point – it’s not difficult to imagine a vision of the series that explores the multiverse, a brand new final frontier of its own.

Here is one of my Discovery reviews again! This was the first episode back after the midseason break, kicking off Discovery phase two in earnest.

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 9 Review – Into the Forest I Go

star trek discovery into the forest I go review michael burnham sonequa martin green hd photo chris byrne Bo Yeon Kim Erika Lippoldt

I think it’s fair to say that this was the best episode of Star Trek: Discovery so far.

Certainly, it was a better episode to end the series on than last week’s would have been – indeed, I’m surprised that it was ever seriously the plan not to have this act as mid-series finale. (Conspiracy: This episode was always intended to be the mid-series finale, and the move forward was staged as a show of support. Probably nonsense, but I’m sticking with it.)

In a way, what this episode achieves is fairly simple – but no doubt deeply difficult to pull off. Slick, confident and engrossing, it was one of the most exciting hours of television that Star Trek: Discovery has offered so far. From the tense infiltration of the Klingon ship to the surprisingly stressful spore jump sequence, the episode was an absolute delight. Stamets’ spore drive jump was particularly impressive, actually – embodying exactly the sort of ingenuity and use of technology to solve problems that I’ve love to see more of from Discovery in future.

This episode was one that I really, really enjoyed. Admittedly, I don’t think my review was ‘up to it’, as it were – it’s a little rushed, and not as analytical as I’d have liked.

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 8 Review – Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

star trek discovery Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum saru doug jones michael burnham sonequa martin green ash tyler shazad latif John S. Scott Kirsten Beyer

In a way, that brings us back to a question posed in initial episodes that we’ve not really looked at since – what does it mean to be Star Trek today? Approaching the end of this half of the season – Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum was originally set to be the midseason finale – it’s worth asking just what the answer has been.

Admittedly, I don’t entirely know quite what Discovery has concluded; in a very real sense, it’s still growing into itself, and doesn’t always know what it wants to be. In some ways, it struggles underneath the weight of the franchise, able to be bold and new within those confines but not necessarily within its own right. Perhaps the more important part of Si Vis Pacem is not in offering a definitive answer to the question, but in showing us that Discovery can offer more than one answer.

Here’s my review of the penultimate Star Trek: Discovery episode, which I really rather enjoyed. This review discusses Saru, Burnham and Ash Tyler, as well as the ongoing Klingon plotline, and what Discovery thinks Star Trek should be.

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 7 Review – Magic To Make The Sanest Man Go Mad

star trek discovery magic to make the sanest man go mad michael burnham sonequa martin green big ol' nerd

Certainly, it’s not difficult to imagine a version of this episode where Burnham was largely on the periphery; one in which the focus was on Stamets and Tyler primarily, without needing Burnham to intercede on their behalf. Taking the time to dwell on the supporting characters would be welcome at this point in the series, not least because they’re often so charming. (How brilliant is Ensign Tilly? She is a gift, honestly.) We’re already at the halfway point of the series, and only have about three weeks left in the first run of episodes – soon it’ll be time for the midseason break. Beyond Burnham, how much time have we spent on each of the characters?

I liked the title of this episode. As to the episode itself? It was alright, I thought, but I was perhaps not as fond of it as the general consensus seems to be.

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Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 6 Review – Lethe

Discovery is struggling to move beyond the Planet of the Hats. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, essentially it refers to a culture defined by a single ubiquitous character trait. Every single Vulcan is logical. Every single Klingon is a warrior. Every single person on the planet of the hats wears hats all the time. It’s a prominent sci-fi genre convention (or cliché, if you’re feeling less kind), and one with plenty of examples across Trek history – pick a random episode of TOS and you’ve got a good chance of finding one.

Discovery, up until now, is pretty much just doing the same thing. Vulcans are all dedicated to logic, Klingons to war, Kelpians are all fearful (or so we’re told); as ever, it’s only the human characters who have differences in aspirations and motivations and even personalities. Yes, certainly, there are differences within that limited scope; while both Sarek and the Vulcan suicide bomber are both dedicated to logic, they’ve clearly got differing interpretations of such. But even then – the Vulcan is a radical adherent to logic. Is that the most interesting thing you could have done with it?

Here’s my review of Lethe, which is the one with James Frain as Sarek. Well, one of them.

At times, I did find Discovery frustrating, even while actually quite enjoying it. This is one such episode, really; entertaining in a lot of ways, but enough little flaws to grate throughout.

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