Sunday, 18 February 2018

Home Run: S1 E15: Will You Take My Hand?

It all comes down to this.   

The Klingons are heading for Earth as the war appears to be coming to a divisive conclusion. However while they’re going one way, Discovery is heading the other with the plan to spore jump beneath the surface of Qo’noS.  Did we also fail to mention that the Terran Emperor Georgiou is posing as her Prime Universe self? Well, she is, leading to more than a few palpable moments of tension and wordplay between her, Burnham and Saru with just a few jibes around eating the Kelpien. 

The rest of the crew are oblivious to this Georgiou’s real origins and when she’s out of sight the differences are striking - especially for L’Rell who ends up receiving a pasting as the Terran Emperor ‘seeks’ information to help with their mission. Georgiou also singles our Tyler due to his rather messed up origins and chews out the former Starfleet officer/Klingon Torchbearer placing him in an uneasy position ahead of what could be a deadly situation.

That deadly mission is to use a drone to map out the Klingon homeworld and viable military targets to end the war and strike at the heart of their power base. An away team of Burnham, Georgiou, Tyler and Tilly take the drone to the surface in search of a temple which will allow them access to the network of tunnels and caves beneath the surface.

The visit to the Orion black market doesn’t quite go to plan however with Georgiou getting laid, Tilly getting high and Tyler and Burnham having a rather belated and inappropriately timed heart to heart. What does transpire is that the drone isn't a drone but a bomb that Starfleet - and Admiral Cornwell - are well aware of and if it's dropped into the tunnel network and activated then it's bye bye Qo'noS.

Burnham manages to turn the potential catastrophe around by giving the bomb trigger to L'Rell so that she can use it as a rather powerful bargaining chip to unite the 24 Houses and rule a reforged Klingon Empire.

So the season ends (well, not quite but we'll come to the closing minutes shortly) and after 15 episodes this, I'll be quite honest, felt like a bit of a flat ending. The adrenaline pumping moments just weren't there, it seemed almost tame in comparison to earlier episodes however, it was packed with some cool references to The Original Series and the movies as well as having perhaps one of the most truly Star Trek conclusions of any Discovery episode to date. Did you spot the Ceti Eels? How about (now) four time Star Trek guest star Clint Howard drinking what we all suspect and hope is Tranya? What about seeing Spacedock apparently under construction? This was an episode that any fan of the franchise minutiae would have wet themselves over and probably been hospitalised in the last 90 seconds. 

Burnham is the undisputed star here, using the episode and the Mirror Georgiou to get her to reflect on her actions and experiences since the Battle at the Binary Stars and look how far she has come from that time. Michael is a different person; more level-headed and not just driven by logic. Her humanity has come to the fore and her relationships with Tilly and Tyler have affected her in different ways but yet both have ultimately made her more human.

Will You Take My Hand? may not be high-octane but it could well be the finale that Discovery deserves, rounding out all the aspects of the season neatly with just a sprinkle of set-up for season two - but let's come back to that even later....

I was surprised that none of Tyler. L'Rell or Georgiou ended up dead reflecting on the body count for the season but this in turn means that any or all of them could pop up again at any time in future years. Having settled everything with Burnham while Tilly took a "trip", the ending for Tyler is a little less signposted with him not really sure of what he is or where his life is going to lead. It's somewhat bitter-sweet in that while he has exorcised the personality of Voq it still has such a hold on him that he feels he is more at home on Qo'noS than with the Discovery and Michael. To be fair I had questioned where they could take him in a second season so this closure felt the best option.

Perhaps that isn't the case in relation to Georgiou who is now just running all over the Klingon homeworld. Again keeping her alive and allowing her to flee means we will almost certainly hear from her again as Burnham's permanent shadowy nemesis. A bold move not to kill off but hey, this season has all been about bold moves.

What did succeed was that there was some form of solid conclusion to the war and to the year as a whole rounded out by Burnham's most Star Trek of Star Trek speeches at the HQ in Paris. It felt worthwhile celebrating not just the success of Discovery's mission but also the mind-blowing success that has come from this first, fledgling year of the show. Both Stamets and Tilly rightly received promotions while Burnham is back at her Shenzhou rank although not in the position of first officer - and then there's the fact we are getting a new captain for the new year. Who? Start your bets now.

Maybe we should really look at this finale as a series of moments and scenes rather than a piece of storytelling as a whole. It's an odd one where I felt that the parts were great but just didn't add up to a better and more satisfying whole. I can dig out some great speeches, sublime events and effects but overall episode 15 left me a little hollow even when it went for the emotional tug of saying goodbye to Tyler.

And then it came right back at the end and slapped us all round the face without even the slightest warning.

I've been a big fan of the subtle hints and nods to the rest of the franchise, even accepting the whole Spock/Sarek/Michael thang that's been going on so the arrival of a certain Constitution Class ship was something more than a little special. We know that Pike is in command but it's the slight tweaks to the design that have fans talking. The engines are a little more NX-01 than The Original Series and those pylons have more in common with the movie refit than than the spindly appendages of the classic.

Whatever you think, the return of the iconic starship has to spell big things for the second season and this year is gonna drag...

What was your favourite moment from the finale of Discovery?

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