‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Fall Finale Wrap-Up: Boldly Going Where No Man Has Gone Before (And Then Some)

Set phasers to stunned! To say the least, the mid-season fall finale of “Star Trek: Discovery” was everything a fan of the show could want, and might even have been ground-breaking enough to convince a few naysayers in the process, save maybe some grumbling about how the show is reflecting the current state of affairs in the world- something the show has always done, BTW, which you’d think people would have picked up on by now. You’d think.

Whatever the case, I found the whole thing pretty riveting, and full of great twists, action and a grandiose move that might well explain a lot of the things that people have been complaining about from the start. Not too shabby for a new series set in a universe that’s been around for over fifty years. But will the doubters get over themselves and buy into it?

Hard to say, but the ratings were already good enough for the show to get renewed for a second season, so it’s safe to say that enough people are watching to make such a move worthwhile. (The CBS All Access streaming service doesn’t release ratings information, a la the Nielsen ratings.)

And while some have argued that the more light-hearted, OG “Star Trek”-inspired “The Orville” is the superior show, a lot of those people may be telling themselves that out of frustration that they can’t watch “Star Trek: Discovery” in the first place because they don’t have access to the streaming service, or can’t afford it. Understandable, but not the show’s fault, by any means.

I had my qualms about the show early on, but I’ve since gotten over them. Yes, the special effects, look of the show, design of the alien characters and costuming are more noticeably modern and advanced than the original “Star Trek” series, which “ST: D” is supposed to come before, but who cares that much if the show delivers? You’d actually want the show to look sort of chintzy and be a little on the campy side?

As much as I love the vibe of TOS, it’s of its time, and should remain as such. Those who love it will always have it at their disposal, thanks to home video, cable, streaming, et al. If you were expecting that sort of thing, the first two episodes alone made it clear that they weren’t going to be going for that sort of vibe in the slightest. This is hard sci-fi, and much more in the vein of “The Next Generation” than TOS, which is fine, as I lean more towards that one, anyway.

In the fall finale, “Into the Forest I Go,” we picked up where we left off in the last episode, with the Discovery about to come face-to-face with the Klingon warship led by the dastardly Kol (Kenneth Mitchell), who has assumed the vacancy left behind by the late T’Kuvma, who, you’ll recall, was killed by Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) in the second episode. Kol is more of a warmonger than his predecessor, less interested in bringing the Klingon Houses together and more in annihilating the Federation, though both sought to do so.

As such, he wastes no time in going after both the Discovery and the basically defenseless planet Pahvo, which has a natural transmitter which the Discovery hopes to use to help them identify cloaked Klingon ships and turn the tide of war to the Federation’s favor. The crew come up with a plan to defeat the Klingons that involves Burnham and Tyler (Shazad Latif) beaming onto their ship and planting some sensors in key places on it.

While Captain Lorca (Jason Isaacs) distracts the Klingons by engaging in a battle, the two successfully teleport onto their ship, where they discover that Admiral Cornwell (Jayne Brook) is injured and more or less being held hostage by L’Rell (Mary Chieffo), who, you’ll recall, betrayed Cornwell when L’Rell was caught trying to escape the ship with her and seek refuge with the Federation as a turncoat, not respecting Kol’s way of doing things.

As soon as Tyler spots L’Rell, he goes into shock caused by his experiences being tortured by her, but it also goes even further than that, as we will discover. This renders him useless for the time being, so Cornwell says she’ll try and talk him through his PTSD while Burnham completes her mission, so that they will be able to work together on down the line and get out of there. They also knock out L’Rell with a phaser so she can’t cause any trouble in the short-term.

As a means of continued distraction, so as to buy time, Lorca asks Stamets (Anthony Rapp) to help the ship make some 122 “mini-jumps,” with the hope that it will cause the Klingons to engage their cloaking device, thus completing the plan, though Burnham must first plant the sensors, one of which she has yet to. To make matters worse, Stamets is traumatized by all the constant jumping around and suffers an attack, causing them to have to back off for a moment so that Dr. Culber (Wilson Cruz) can attend to him to allow him to continue.

To buy some time, Burnham, after planting the other sensor, fires upon Kol’s crew and challenges him to a fight, revealing herself as the one who killed T’Kuvma, and pointing out that defeating her will give him some bragging rights- if he can. This does the trick and the two go at it, as Stamets recovers, completes the necessary jumps and the cloaking algorithm is able to be calculated.

Meanwhile, Cornwell successfully helps Tyler get through his trauma- in the short-term, at least- and, upon receiving word from the Discovery that they have what they need, the two are beamed back onto the ship, but with an unexpected hitchhiker: L’Rell, who has also recovered and grabs onto them at the last minute, thus accompanying the two onto the Discovery, where she is immediately taken into custody and jailed.

Likewise, Burnham is also beamed back onto the ship, and before she can complete the fight with Kol, much to his dismay. She manages to snag her former captain Georgiou’s ID badge from Kol before she does so, bringing it back with her. Mission completed and everyone safe, the Discovery fires at will on the Klingon vessel, defeating Kol and blowing up his ship.

Stamets, however, is worse for the wear, but agrees to one last jump to get them back safely to Starbase 46, and avoid the no doubt impending retaliation of the Klingons for their fallen brother- for now, at least. He does discover that all his efforts have not been in vain, as Lorca has been cataloguing all their travels, charting all the places that Stamets jumped to so that they can further explore them at a later date.

Unfortunately, it proves to be one time too many for Stamets, who suffers another attack and this time, doesn’t come back from it, at least in the short-term. When we last leave the Discovery, they are in uncharted territory instead of their intended destination, with the remains of Klingon ships floating around them. Are they in another dimension, another time? Stamets makes some cryptic statements about a “clearing in the forest” at one point during the episode, and seems to have a vision of some sort, offering possible clues to what may really be going on.

Tyler also confesses to Burnham that L’Rell did more than merely torture him- she also took a liking to him, as alluded to in “Choose Your Pain,” but not elaborated on until now. We see in flashbacks that she also raped him, and that it may have done something to him in the process. But what? A visit to L’Rell later on doesn’t do much to quell his fears, as she implies that he will find out soon enough, but that she will “keep him safe.”

Might he have somehow been impregnated by her? I don’t know enough about Klingon reproduction to know how that works, but it can’t be very compatible with the way a human male’s body works, that’s for sure. If she laid an egg inside him, we could be looking at an “Alien”-like situation here.

My other thought is that he might have a sort of Klingon STD (no pun intended) from the experience that could prove deadly, or that she intentionally implanted something inside him, but that L’Rell might know how to deal with it and use it as a bargaining chip to get herself freed. Whatever the case, talk about boldly going where no “Star Trek” has gone before!

Perhaps it also goes without saying that this sort of thing is an unfortunate reflection of what’s been going on in the news lately, though I imagine it was written long before all the current news of Weinstein and Moore and the like broke. By making a man the victim, it brings something new to the table that we haven’t quite seen before, which makes it as fascinating as it is disquieting. (It also coincidentally ties into what cast member Anthony Rapp has himself been through IRL, to a certain extent, I might add.)

Kudos to writers Bo Yeon Kim & Erika Lippoldt for such a first-rate, boundary-pushing script for this episode. Hoping to see more from them on down the line in the show’s second half. Either way, the show could use more of this sort of inventive, original plotting. Although the first two episodes were attention-getting, to be sure, given what transpired and the overall approach of the show going into it; to me, the show didn’t really kick into high gear until around the seventh episode, with the return of Harry Mudd, and has been in the zone ever since.

Unfortunately, just as it was taking off, story-wise, it’s time for a fall break, but what are you going to do? Hopefully, the show will hit the ground running come January, and keep up the momentum established with these last few episodes. I certainly look forward to seeing what comes next especially in regards to Tyler’s situation and whatever happened with Stamets and where the Discovery is now. Might they be in another dimension, or even another time? Can’t wait to find out!

Overall, I thought the season was pretty solid thus far. Yes, it took a hot minute to get going, and some of the plot choices have been a bit iffy, but I liked it more than I didn’t. I do think we need to get more on some of the lesser-known characters on the ship, particularly in regards to the main crew in the control room. I couldn’t even name most of the ones who aren’t Lorca and Saru.

Only Detmer (Emily Coutts), whose name I had to look up, has made much of an impression, and that’s mostly because of her look, as she’s the one with the partially shaved head and the metal thingee going across the side of her head and onto her face. No idea what that is, or what function, if any, it serves, or what she does, really. I couldn’t tell you what near anyone else in that room does, either.

Although, at least the show seemed to acknowledge it when they had Mudd snarkily refer to one of them as a “random officer guy” or something like that in episode seven. But simply pointing out one’s shortcomings in the writing doesn’t change the fact that the control room is occupied by a bunch of randoms at this point. Hopefully, we’ll have a little more to go on in the second half of the show. Given that the crew will likely have to work together to get out of their current situation, it will allow us to get to know them better in the process.

It’s a small quibble, though, as all shows have a tendency to dig into the supporting characters only after the main ones have been established. But they’ve firmly done so now, so there’s no excuse to not deal with it moving forward. I know enough about the main crew now- it’s time to deal with the others, if only so I know who they are, and what they do exactly. They can expand on the rest later on.

Beyond that, I’ve enjoyed the show and genuinely look forward to the second half, and that’s saying a lot for a show I had some trepidation about covering. As my loyal readers know, I’m more of a horror guy, and covering the likes of “American Horror Story,” “The Walking Dead” and so forth is more my forte, so this was new ground for me, save maybe covering “Extant” in its first season. But “Star Trek” is hard sci-fi, and I was a bit nervous about doing it, admittedly.

Given the overall reaction I’ve gotten on social media, I don’t seem to have embarrassed myself too much, and I thank you all for your patience and understanding there. It was a bit intimidating going in, but I think I’m getting the hang of it. I can’t thank the after-show “After Trek” enough for helping to fill in the blanks of my somewhat limited knowledge of the genre and “Star Trek” in general.

Of course, I stated in my very first review that this was going to be more of a layperson’s take on the show, so there you go. Knowing that, I can’t say I’ve had a lot of people tearing me a new one about not catching a deep cut reference or what have you. Indeed, everyone’s been downright civil up to this point, so I thank you for that, especially in these divided times.

Nothing wrong with a bit of constructive criticism, which I’ve received and taken into account, and I’ve certainly dealt with some people who just downright hate the show and stopped watching early on, but nothing too bad yet, so knock on wood. I thank you for your time and for those who did, taking the time to comment. I hope to hear from you more in the future, going forward with the show.

In the meantime, let me know what you thought of the series so far, and more specifically, the finale. What worked for you and what didn’t? What would you change about the show? Any major missteps for you, in terms of the overall plotting, characterization or anything else, for that matter? What do you think of the casting? How about the writing? How do you think it stacks up to the previous versions of “Star Trek” so far? Sound off down below, and join me in January for my coverage of the second half of the first season!