Sunday, February 25, 2018

Will You Take My Hand

*** (3 stars out of 5)

Discovery has barely had time to awaken from their year-long nightmare and now their insane Starfleet bosses have put a Kelpian-eating, planet-blasting, jerk back in the Captain's chair. Officially, they are spore-hopping into a cavern in a canyon and their surveillance drones will be number 9. Just a mapping mission. To map. You know. Just a little survey map of the Qo'noS volcanos. Just some exploration, some spelunking and... oh, to hell with it. Yes, we're blowing it up. No more Beast Form Klingons- I mean, except all the ones in the fleet poised over Earth with their teeth in its throat.

Georgiou threatens to eat Saru, L'Rell threatens to eat Georgiou (again), Georgiou kicks the red blood out of L'Rell. And we return to what has miraculously "worked" all along- an away team consisting of a Mirror Universe killer, famous traitor Michael Burnham, shell-shocked Ash, and Tilly, the plucky cadet.

Qo'noS gave some of their garbage land to the Orions for an embassy/garbage town. The good news: more Orions (faithfully rendered and not suddenly sporting four arms) means I don't have to look at as many garbage Klingons. Plus their clad is scanty. Too scanty, really- I didn't ask for a "Klingon" peeing a double stream in the street, but this is where we are now.

The "mapping" mission goes off perfectly! Inside of an hour Georgiou is romping with green prossies of each type, Burnham and Tyler are having a heart-to-heart in a gambling den, and Tilly is huffing fumes with Clint Howard until she passes out. It's very, very fan fiction. Yes, in a good way.

Michael tells her origin story, much as it appeared last year in David Mack's novel. "Klingons" killed her dad fast, her mom slow, and then had a big laugh while they ate the Burnham family dinner. Burnt ham, probably? Despite everything, Michael stands up for principles above survival- and the crew stands up to Admiral Cornwell's bad choices. Saru, Detmer, Airiam, Ginger, MaryAnn, and the rest don't feel like any genocide today, thanks.

Burnham gets The Emperor to sign her yearbook "Best Wishes, Less Murders" before she wanders off scot free. Burnham gives L'Rell command of Starfleet's planet killing bomb lodged inside Qo'noS. L'Rell and Voq now take the (The High Council? Maybe? It's some Lord of the Rings goblin cave.) hostage before they wander off scot free, too. Thanks to a single woman holding an iPad, the war is over. FOREVER.

How many fan girls echo Ash's words at his departure: "I'm going to miss looking at you." For my part, I would be very glad not to look at Disco Klingons any more- but I've proven that I choose my pain, so I always watch Star Trek- no matter what double pisses it takes on its own history.

The Federation President pardons Michael and restores her Commander rank. Promotions and medals for all! Desperation is done, idealism is back. That was easy! Like, a dream...

Or like the end of Into Darkness- hours of mindless violence with a tiny chaser of "Violence is Bad, kids". But I like the smiling kids who are left as our Final Girls. One or more of them are named Bryce, I think?

Oh, and a teaser I think they meant as fanservice: a distress call from Captain Pike of the Enterprise. Ship's not right, but it's closer than I expected.  Then the sixties theme song. It's pandering, but it's on the right track.

So, yeah. In many ways, a miserable death march. I've spent hours watching other people go first online with ST:Discovery commentaries. "After Trek" is boldly in love with everyone and everything that happens. Some YouTube reviewers complain vehemently with not a little misogyny and bigotry but somehow are still watching at the end of the season. I tried to love it and I tried to hate it and I found a little of both in my heart. I heard a Red Letter Media reviewer say: "Star Trek used to be about ideals but now it's just familiar names and places to shoot at each other..." and "How does it feel to live long enough to watch all your favourite franchises crash and burn?"

There are some fantastic moments here and I will never stop wondering what will happen next. Here's to a valiant effort. Here's to living long enough to see your favourite things die. Here's to Star Trek.

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