April 15, 2019
‘Star Trek: Discovery’ Delivers “Such Sweet Sorrow” With the Penultimate Episode of Season 2
I am beside myself.
Why am I writing in italics? Because I know no other way to describe my anxiety after seeing the penultimate Season 2 episode of Star Trek: Discovery, “Such Sweet Sorrow.”
Billed as the first part of a two-part season finale, “Such Sweet Sorrow” increased the drama a thousand-fold. This episode had me literally screaming “What’s going to happen?!” and squirming in my seat. Perhaps some of that was the orange-vanilla coke I drank. But I think most of that was due to the action, drama, and pure emotion that filled this week’s episode.
I don’t know where to start. So let’s go ahead and break down the top emotional moments of the episode.
I think the Enterprise is everyone’s favorite ship, so it was fun to see the Enterprise bridge for the first time this season. We also got to see Rebecca Romijn reprise her role as Number One, possibly the only human to act the most like a Vulcan without purposely trying (unlike Amanda and Michael, who have had to assimilate to fit in to Vulcan society).
As many have already said online, the Enterprise’s bridge is beautiful. It captures the mod lines of the original Enterprise while bringing it into the 21st century. From my standpoint, this incarnation of the Enterprise is a fantastic mix of the original ‘60s design and the Abrams-verse design, but without so much lens flare. Let’s hope we see more of the Enterprise in Discovery’s Season 3 or, perhaps, in its own spinoff. Many online have been clamoring for a Pike-Spock tag team spinoff, which would take place entirely aboard the Enterprise. I would be on board for that, since their relationship is very intriguing to me.
The pain of the future
The theme of knowing the future continues, with Michael putting both of her hands on the time crystal and got a glimpse of a possible future—the entire crew, including Michael, dying aboard the Discovery at the hands of Borg Leland. This pain allows Michael to change the Discovery’s course of action, hopefully preventing everyone’s deaths. But the future remains something not to be tampered with, unless you want knowledge a human can’t handle.
Pike would know this better than anyone. He realized that Michael had touched the crystal, because when they shared a look, you could see the unspoken conversation they were having. Pike is still coming to grips with what he’s done to his own future—as we saw last episode, he’s essentially sacrificed his health for the good of the entire universe. The event has changed Pike forever, and throughout the episode, he seems to be trying to tell Michael and others that it’s not always great to know what’s coming your way. In fact, it’s unclear if being in the dark is any better than knowing what’s going to happen. With both scenarios, you must use your best judgement, and of course, with questions of judgement, questions of character also come into play.
Jett seems to be the third person that will come into contact with the future. Interestingly enough, it’s the same future Michael saw…or at least we’re led to think so. Perhaps some of the same events happen, such as a missile breaching the hull, but as we see from the season finale previews, Michael gets to the wormhole, so clearly some things have changed. But does anyone on the bridge still die? So many questions. Currently, only Jett has the answers.
Discovery is a family
Michael realizes that she’s the only one who can pilot a new Red Angel suit and fling the sphere data into the future because the Red Angel suit will only respond to her and her mother’s DNA. Spock concludes that the only reason this is possible is because a Michael from the future has created the other three signals. The plan seems all cool, except for the fact that the crystal’s energy would have been used up for the trip through the wormhole; Michael wouldn’t be able to tether herself back to the Discovery and her timeline.
Ever the martyr, Michael takes on the task with courage and dignity, even though fear is bubbling just beneath the surface. It seems she is going to go on the trip alone; she tells her crew how much she’s loved serving with them, and even Sarek and Amanda come aboard to give a heartfelt goodbye. Finally, we see some warmth from Sarek, who realizes he’s a father ill-equipped at parenting human and half-human children. But all parents make mistakes, don’t they? He was doing the best he could, and Michael gladly acquiesces to his emotional request for forgiveness.
But it’s as if the show realized that there would be people out there who would be ready to write thinkpieces on how yet again, a Black woman is put in a position to sacrifice herself on a TV show. Instead of having Michael be the sacrificial lamb, the entire crew decide to tie their fates to Michael’s.
It’s a courageous show of solidarity, and Michael can’t persuade them to rethink think, no matter how hard she tries. It’s an amazing moment, showcasing how much Star Trek exists to reinforce the ideas of family and togetherness. However, a small thing I must point out: I’m glad Spock is going along with Michael. But wouldn’t Sarek have felt Spock’s katra as much as he did Michael’s? Wouldn’t he and Amanda want to say goodbye to him, too? I mean, Spock and Sarek are on the outs, but still, a goodbye or at least a Vulcan salute would be nice.
But this is a nitpick: the more important thing right now is that everyone doesn’t abandon Michael to the nether regions of space. That means a lot. I was surprised to feel how much it affected me, someone who also feels like they have to carry the world on their back alone. Seeing people step up to share Michael’s burden lifted something within me. I know writing about the “Strong Black Woman” trope might seem cliché, but I didn’t realize how much that trope had defined my outlook on life until this moment. It would be great if we see more people, on TV and in real life, share the burdens of the Black woman, because we are just human; we need some help with the load.
New friendships and beginnings
We got some cool moments with characters old and new this episode. The 17-year-old queen of Xahea, Po (Yadira Guevara-Prip) comes back aboard to help power the crystal. Hardcore Discovery fans know she is from one of the “Short Treks” short films. I, in all honesty, haven’t seen this Short Trek, or any Short Treks, because I didn’t realize they would be integral to the main storyline. Will I go back and see them? I honestly don’t know. But thankfully, I didn’t have to in order to get caught up enough to get with Po’s characterization. She’s a fun, inviting character, and I hope we can see more of her and her friendship with Tilly in the third season.
While she and Tilly gave us a sweet counterpoint to this episode’s drama, Culber and Stamets provided us with some awkward sadness. Both have decided to amicably go their separate ways after this ordeal is over, with Stamets taking some time off and Culber moving to the Enterprise.
I hope they can somehow still work things out, but this decision to move forward also makes sense. The old Culber is dead, and the new Culber needs to figure who he is. Right now, that much emotional baggage can’t include the added baggage of Stamets. Even though Stamets is still heartbroken, he loves Culber enough to let him go and allow him to figure out his new life. That’s true love.
Overall, this episode is yet another amazing addition to this season’s stellar episodes. I don’t know how the writing staff managed to top themselves nearly every episode, but they accomplished it. With the writing talent that’s been displayed this season, I’m completely confident the season finale will be something that will have us Trek fans talking about for months—if not years—to come.
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