Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Aims High

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In many ways, Star Trek: Discovery is reinventing Star Trek for television.

Its intentions to do so were clear in Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 when it rejected the episodic format of previous series and played out a serialized narrative that included Klingons, interdimensional travel, and the Mirror Universe.

And Mudd. It had Mudd.

Intergalactic Criminal Extraordinaire - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 5

Fans of Star Trek: The Original Series appreciated the inclusion of the space-travelling flim-flam man (played with unapologetic amoralness by Rainn Wilson) in this pre-TOS timeline offering.

Related: Get CBS All Access via Prime Video Channels for Hit Shows, Exclusive Originals, & Live TV!

Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 tripled-down on the nostalgic element with the introductions of Ethan Peck's angsty Spock, Anson Mount's cowboy captain Christopher Pike, and Rebecca Romijn's efficient Number One.

Classic Trek Trio - Star Trek: Discovery

Of the three, Pike was the most interesting and compelling addition to the crew even if Spock was the emotional catalyst for Burnham.

Because of Star Trek canon, both Pike and Spock have known long-term outcomes.

What was done particularly well here with Pike  was foreshadowing those later events with little salutes and references.

Pike and Vina Now and Then - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 8

While Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 8 was, at heart, a bit of a family counselling detour for Burnham and Spock to Talos IV, it was the first real peek into Pike's emotional underpinnings.

His scenes with Vina are the only time we see him in a non-professional relationship and the feelings involved are obviously full of regret and loss as well as intimacy.

Throughout the season, he proved himself to be, as Admiral Cornwell describes it, "the best of Starfleet" in his interactions with crew, his approach to conflicts, and ability to adapt to rapidly-changing information.

Hit It - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 14

His distinctive trademark strategy was hearing out every suggestion before making his final decisions. Even in the midst of crisis, he would wait for an explanation.

This is a marked departure from many of the Starfleet captains we are more familiar with and visibly built a trust among the crew thrust under his command.

In comparison, chances are good that Tilly would never have uttered a peep if Lorca (Prime or Mirror) was still in that captain's chair.

I'm not going to abandon the things that make me who I am because of a future that contains an ending I hadn't foreseen for myself.

Pike

Pike's presence on Discovery allowed the ship to come into its own as a vessel of exploration and interplanetary contact.

In their investigation of the seven signals, they rescued Reno from an asteroid, discovered the Terralysium colony, and visited Kaminar, Boreth, Talos IV, and Xahea.

Compared to the two stops in the Mirror Universe and Qo'noS in Star Trek: Discovery Season 1, it's a much more varied itinerary and mission.

Related: Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 is All Over the Space (and Time)

In keeping with Pike's interest in valuing the contribution of all crew members, we got to know the crew better as individuals this season.

Detmer, Owo, Rhys, Bryce, Linus and Nilsson are individually recognized and recognizable.

A Crew United - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 13

We've seen them in action before but seeing them relaxing and joking together off-duty serves to make them that much more real.

Thus, when they record their final goodbyes to loved ones on the eve of the final battle, we feel a genuine regret that their story may end in the attempt to escape Control.

And we do bid good-bye to some familiar faces.

Tilly and Airiam - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 9

Airiam's story isn't shared until her final episode but her contribution to the crew is conveyed through Tilly's testimonial.

Her struggle against Control's influence is brilliantly conveyed by actress Hannah Cheesman despite the makeup and costuming which basically restricted her emotional output to her voice alone.

Related: Red Angel or Red Herring -- Was Star Trek: Discovery's Reveal Worth the Wait?

Perhaps the least surprising development of the season was Spock's appearance on Star Trek: Discovery as it was pretty much a given since Burnham's his foster sister.

It was always just a matter of when.

Spock is Thinking Hard - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 11

His storyline drives the family theme of the season. Because of the appearance of the Enterprise and his escape from the medical facility, both Amanda and Sarek are drawn into the action of the early part of the season.

There is a lot of healing to be done in the relationships in the House of Sarek. And they spend a LOT of time letting Burnham and Spock work it out.

Ultimately, there are some fascinating tidbits dropped about young Spock.

Spock as Witness - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 10

His learning disability. His childhood nightmares. The racism he endured as a half-human child on Vulcan.

By the time it was all revealed, I think we all felt like his protective older sister.

However, his connection to the Red Angel gets a bit confusing especially as we got closer to the finale.

The major question left for me was, since Dr. Gabrielle Burnham had nothing to do with the seven signals and Spock's childhood visions of the Red Angel were of her in the suit, how did adult Spock predict the signal locations?

While several players that made multi-episodic appearances throughout the season, May, L'Rell, and Dr. Burnham all had mysteries tied into their plotlines.

Burnham's Mother - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 11

Gabrielle Burnham was the first red herring twist in the Red Angel enigma. The truth of her disappearance from Burnham's life was dramatic and shocking.

Her time-travel suit and mission to stop Control answered a lot of the questions posed at the start of the season but her ambiguous exit left a lot of unresolved issues for her daughter.

It also underscores the fundamental problem with time-travel stories. They get irreparably messy.

No one ever tracks all the potential continuum contradictions and nit-pickers get a year's worth of complaint material out of a single episode.

Chancellor L'Rell - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 14

I feel bad on behalf of L'Rell. Until the finale, she was really just used as a prop for Tyler's progression to Section 31.

As the most powerful individual in the Klingon Empire, holding it together at the cost of lover and child, she has the potential to anchor any level of political drama.

Instead, she makes a token appearance on Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 12 to gain closure regarding her son but spends much of it still clinging to a memory of Voq and resenting Burnham.

You of all people should understand that two truths are possible.

L'Rell

Then, a final indignity, the narrative device that propelled Tyler off Qo'noS in the first place, the deception that she had killed him for killing her child, is blown to bits in the finale when he resumes his place at her side on her ship in the finale.

Her position as Chancellor and Mother of Qo'noS was completely predicated on his death. She reiterates that when they meet above Boreth.

So, how the Ql'yaH were they able to convince the Klingon fleet to accept him as both alive again and a human-shaped commander?

A Good Day to Die - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 14

Reaching WAY back to the beginning of Star Trek: Discovery Season 2, May, the manifestation of Tilly's mycelial fungal infection (eeyech), led them into the network one more time to remove the Dr. Culber-shaped canker that was endangering her world.

Resurrecting Culber was simulataneously satisfying and problematic. His death never sat right with me as Tyler/Voq was never held accountable for it.

Doctor at the Ready - Star Trek: Discovery Season 1 Episode 9

Bringing him back put him in a similar position as his murderer, suffering a form of PTSD and not being able to reconcile his new life with his old one.

And Stamets got emotionally beaten up and abandoned in the process.

Thank goodness for Reno sticking her nose into it on Stamets' behalf. It's the only thing that redeemed the situation for me.

People like us always find people like them and thank god. You have a second chance and it may not last forever. Don't screw it up.

Reno

The fact that Culber has a(nother) change of heart off-screen in time to reunite with Stamets before they get flung who-knows-when in the time stream BARELY garners him forgiveness for what he put Stamets through.

One of the primary critiques of Star Trek: Discovery's writing to date is its reliance on easy fixes after a convoluted build-up.

To be fair, the finale was actually a complicated -- to the point of almost being indecipherable -- fix to the aforementioned convoluted build-up.

But it was beautiful. The two-part finale was something that deserved to be seen on a movie screen and the ending was far more epic than television shows usually risk.

Number One Under Fire - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 14

I hate cliffhangers. However, the question of how the Discovery makes it back to their own time in 124 days is one I'm willing to stick around to see answered.

With luck, the seeds of Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 will be sown with a new series of Short Treks before the next premiere.

In an unpublicized game of "One of These Things is Not Like the Others," the Discovery writers used the mini-episodes to place background pieces to both the Kaminar and Xahea adventures as well as hint at the ultimate solution for Discovery's sphere data dilemma.

Home Planet - Star Trek: Discovery

It was easily one of the most perfectly interwoven narratives I've ever seen attempted on television.

For instance, the mini-episode "Calypso" is an allusional retelling of a portion of Homer's Odyssey and seemed to be nothing but a lovely little sci-fi jaunt into how an A.I. can develop feelings.

As Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 progressed, the realization that "Calypso" was actually a glimpse into Discovery's potential future was like a slow-mo mind-plosion. Gorgeous stuff.

Reno, Calm in a Crisis - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 14

The greatest highlight of the season was the introduction of Jett Reno, the new Chief of Engineering and resident curmudgeon.

I lived for her scenes -- from getting high on mycelial spores to passing on heartfelt but prickly relationship advice -- and have every appendage crossed that she'll be back in all her cranky glory next season.

Of those left behind, I commend the representation of the Enterprise crew who embark on their next mission once their ship is ready to go, very much back in the saddle, as it were.

Key Three - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 14

But once again, Tyler somehow ends up golden despite quite possibly toppling the Klingon power structure by his existence.

Honestly, I am completely flummoxed as to how Tyler scores a promotion out of this whole situation except that he might be the ONLY member of Section 31 left alive.

Whatever. When Georgiou returns (again) she'll have something to say about that chain of command.

Tyler's Debrief - Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 14

With a variety of Star Trek projects in the works, Star Trek: Discovery looks to be the anchor piece to this re-energized franchise.

I look forward to more exploration and adventure, maybe a little less Section 31 shenanigans, and a lot less Tyler-Burnham kissy-face.

If we learned anything, we learned we are not yet ready to learn everything.

Spock

So, what's on your wish-list for Season 3?

Where did your kudos land? Who/what needed airlocking?

Is this evolution of Star Trek on the right track?

Did Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 miss its mark? Or did it, as Pike would put it, "hit it" out of the galaxy?

Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Star Trek: Discovery Quotes

On the eve of battle, on a cold and windless night, an old general turned to a young soldier. 'Tomorrow,' said the master,'you will know Fear.' The young soldier who had not yet experienced the agony of war looked at the general with quizzical eyes. 'How will I know Fear if I do not know what it looks like?' The general replied,'You will know Fear because it speaks very fast and it speaks very loud...' 'If that is how Fear acts, recognizing it is easy.' But as the young soldier considered the general's advice, she asked the question facing us now,'Once I know Fear, how do I defeat it?'

Burnham

When the future becomes the past, the present will be unlocked.

Tenavik