The season one finale of Star Trek: Discovery, “Will You Take My Hand?” is going to make a lot of people mad. I’m not one of them. They’ll say things like, “It wasn’t Star Trek-y enough” or “it was TOO Star Trek-y.” It doesn’t really matter what they say, the episode was very good and a wonderful way to cap off the season. It was also a perfect way to get us to watch Season Two. (As if we aren’t going to watch it already. Come on.)
**WARNING: THERE ARE MAJOR SPOILERS THROUGHOUT THIS RECAP/REVIEW. SO, STOP READING NOW IF DON’T WANT TO SEE ANY SPOILERS.**
The visual of the first scene is not good, even though we were expecting it. Mirror Universe Georgiou has been placed in Discovery’s captain’s chair by Starfleet to lead an attack on Qo’noS, the Klingon home world. Yikes. The crew is trying to adjust to a captain who they are told is Georgiou, but who I’m pretty sure no one believes is Georgiou. Besides, she’s a total b*tch. She barks orders and enjoys intimidating the crew. She takes particular delight in trying to make Saru uncomfortable since his species’ role in the MU is relegated to slave or main course. She asks him if he’s afraid, then teases that “scared Kelpien makes for tough Kelpien” and asks if he’s gotten tough. Saru, who knows who she is but still doesn’t take her crap, says: “Affirmative, Captain. Very tough. So much so, that many find me simply unpalatable.”
Anyway, Fake News Georgiou has a plan, but she needs intel from a Klingon, so she first decides to question (and I use the term loosely) L’Rell. As you may recall, L’Rell, Voq, and numerous abandoned and starving Klingons ate the corpse of our Philippa Georgiou. So, L’Rell was a little shocked to see her one-time snack walk through the brig doors. In answer to Georgiou’s correction that she’s not that Georgiou, L’Rell deadpans, “Either way, I can tell you require seasoning.”
If the irony occurred to Georgiou given her earlier convo with Saru, she didn’t say. Instead, when L’Rell refused to give up the information on Qo’noS needed to execute their plan, Georgiou jumped into the cell and proceeded to try to beat it out of her. True to form, she fights dirty and viciously. L’Rell is reduced in short order to a bloody mess on the floor of the cell, but only laughs at Georgiou. If Michael hadn’t stopped her by telling her that there was another way, she would have killed L’Rell.
The “other way,” of course, is Tyler. He still has all of Voq’s knowledge and memories and agrees to help, probably for Michael. On a holo-map, he locates the best place for the team to land to carry out their plan. Georgiou adds him to the landing party, as well as Tilly, for no other reason it seems than because the MU Tilly doppelganger is a good friend, or at least somebody as bloodthirsty as she is, so she’s hoping they share some unsavory traits.
Discovery uses the now recharged spore drive to make the jump to Qo’nos and gives us one of the best special effects shots of the series. Just the thought of something the size of the Discovery popping into an underground cavern is cool, seeing it CGI-rendered perfectly is fantastic. Unrealistic depictions of the effect of gravity on an object in CGI shots set my teeth on edge. They totally got this shot right.
But that’s not the only eye-popping visual to come in this episode. The landing party materializes in a seedy area on the planet that was turned over to the Orions, who apparently are disreputable in both universes, so Georgiou can navigate there with no problem. Georgiou, Burnham, Tilly and Tyler step out like they just came from a Vogue photoshoot, head to toe in black leather outfits, which would have been right at home on a catwalk at Paris Fashion Week. Georgiou’s swagger has no rivals. Does Michelle Yeoh (Georgiou) have runway experience? I need to look that up.
I don’t know why one has to look like a Next Top Model to pass as a criminal in a neighborhood that looks like a cross between Mos Eisley and any locale in ‘Blade Runner‘, but whatever. They blend. The mission is to find the location of some temple ruins that will give them access to some underground network of dormant volcanoes, so they start trying to subtly question the locals.
Pretending to be arms dealers, Georgiou negotiates while Tilly pulls Burnham aside asking how much they can trust the former Empress of the Terran Empire. Burnham says the most they can do is keep an eye on her. Georgiou joins them, having gained no intel, and she suggests they go to a bar next, because of course she does. Everybody knows that’s where you get the good intel. At least in movies and TV.
I cannot emphasize how much I enjoyed this next section. Initially, I was dreading it because I knew that it would be a strip joint, and I get so tired of that trope. Lo and behold, however, the giant hologram beckoning passersby to come in was not a scantily clad lady. It was a scantily clad guy. Inside, it was not only female butt cheeks on display, but male butt cheeks as well! Did I mention this is a recap of a Star Trek series episode? But it gets better.
Georgiou eyes the gyrating figures on stage with all the thirst of, well, Captain Kirk and Scotty watching a belly dancer. She sends Tyler and Burnham away to find out what they can while an uncomfortable Tilly sticks with her. But wait, there’s more.
A pair of erotic dancers approach Georgiou who asks the guy, “How much for a little me time?” When he gestures to a private area, she says, nodding to the young lady, “Bring your friend.
BRING YOUR FRIEND??? We’ve gone off the Star Trek rails, folks.
When Tilly smiles and sputters she’s not interested but, thank you, Georgiou says, “She’s not for you.”
Nope, this is DEFINITELY not your father’s Star Trek. And I’m totally here for it.
Later, we see Georgiou post-coital (or whatever), lounging in a kickass black leather corset between the two dancers/hookers, but she just wanted to get some fun in before beating them up (which, honestly, I think she may have enjoyed more) and questioning them about the location of the temple.
Meanwhile Burnham and Tyler are hanging out, watching Klingons gamble, and opening up to each other. Tyler shares that Voq was born basically an albino and that he was bullied by other Klingons. He seems to be growing more comfortable with Voq’s memories. He goes off to gamble and see what he can learn from the group of Klingons, who think a Klingon-speaking human is funny.
When he returns, Burnham, out of the blue, finally opens up about the death of her parents. Maybe because of what Tyler told her about Voq. Anyway, it was pretty horrific. Burnham heard her parents being tortured and killed inside a closet they put her in before the attack. Tyler thinks he understands better why she hates Klingons, but she says she doesn’t hate Klingons. When she sees them, she just sees people trying to live their lives. She feels compassion for them. Tyler says no Klingons felt that way for her. She reminds him that he did.
So, it’s official. She thinks of him as a Klingon. But this time he doesn’t really deny it.
No time to dwell on the sadness (thank goodness, because I’m actually not that interested in this relationship anymore). Suddenly, Tyler notices a couple of Klingons toasting each other in a way that leads him to believe they might know the way to the temple and he goes off to investigate.
Meanwhile Tilly has moved on to another part of the den of iniquity while waiting on Georgiou. When an older guy motions to her to come sit by him, we get our next ‘Whaaaaat?” moment in the episode because the old guy is played by none other than CLINT HOWARD!
If you don’t know why that’s hilarious, don’t call yourself a Trekkie or a Trekker. For those not in the know, Howard is revered in the Star Trek Universe because of his appearance at the tender age of six in the original Star Trek episode, “The Corbomite Maneuver,” as a diminutive alien named Balok. It was the second episode filmed and the tenth shown in the first season of ‘Star Trek:The Original Series‘. He appeared in a couple of other Star Trek series’ as an adult, but he is most famous for his role as that creepy tiny alien. I was screaming when I realized it was him. It felt so right for him to be on this episode for some reason.
Anyway, Howard’s character proceeds to get Tilly high by insisting she inhale some smoke in a bowl, on pain of ejection from the club. When she passes out, he tries to open the case she’s carrying with the drone in it and steal her stuff. Luckily, she wakes up in time to stop him, but then she asks what she smoked. He tells her its volcanic ash from the source, alerting her to the fact that the volcanoes under the surface are live, not dead as Georgiou had told them. When she opens the case. she finds not a drone, but a bomb. When she pings Burnham to tell her (“First of all, I’m very high.” I LOVE this chick) about her suspicions, Georgiou ambushes and knocks her out, and takes the case.
The rest of the team figures out that if Georgiou manages to drop the bomb in the temple, well, it will set off a chain-reaction that will obliterate Qo’noS and slaughter most of the Klingon population. They contact Saru, but they are too late to track the bomb and not able to transport Georgiou.
They finally contact Admiral Cornwell who gives weak excuses why they stooped so low as to plan a genocide. Pointing out that the Federation is on the brink of being wiped out, she says, “We don’t have the luxury of principles.” But Michael says, “That is all we have, Admiral.” Then Burnham gives her THE SPEECH. You know, the stirring speech designed to shame the person you’re speaking to into doing the right thing? Burnham’s is mercifully short, but it is actually very powerful. She admits that when she mutinied before she did it because she thought their survival was more important than their principles. She says, “I was wrong. Do we need a mutiny today to prove who we are?”
Now, I have a point of order here. Michael seems to be saying that mutiny is okay as long as it is for the right reason. I suppose this is fine, in principle, but then what’s the point of having regulations and …oh, what the hell… this is Star Trek, not Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good and Evil.” Moving on.
Saru stands with Burnham and tells the admiral exactly who they are: “We are Starfleet.” The rest of the bridge crew, who are looking awesome, join in one by one (and who is NOT going to stand at that point). It works because it always does on TV. Whereas in real-life, a person can filibuster for eight hours in heels on the floor of the House of Representatives to get a bunch of idiots to do the right thing, and get nada–
Where was I? Oh yeah.
With the Admiral’s blessing, Burnham finds Georgiou and offers her freedom in exchange for the detonator. Georgiou doesn’t get why Burnham has a problem with the slaughter of her enemies. Burnham finally realizes that this woman is nothing like her Georgiou, and says as much. Georgiou tells her that she never has been, and there are no second chances, but admits she likes Michael and suggests that they team up. Burnham declines and tells Georgiou to hand over the detonator or the Federation will hunt her down for the rest of her life. This doesn’t faze Georgiou. Then Burnham says that to get past her, Georgiou will have to kill her, “and you’ll have to watch me die…again.” Georgiou hesitates, and Burnham reiterates the whole “hunted until the end of your days” thing and Georgiou relents.
Burnham has Tyler bring L’Rell into the cavern and gives her the detonator and Georgiou codes it to her DNA. Burnham tells L’Rell that she now has the fate of the Klingon Empire in her hands. Despite her strength, L’Rell doubts her abilities. Tyler steps up to the plate and tells her in Klingon that “Voq, the Torchbearer who lights the way for the leader,” has always believed in her, then in his own voice that “It’s time for you to come out of the shadows.” I love the chemistry between these two.
Georgiou takes off and Burnham warns her to be good. “Or you’ll come after me?” she asks, smiling. Michael gives a small smile and tells her to make sure she doesn’t have to. Yeah, she’ll be back.
The goodbyes continue with Burnham and Tyler when he tells her he’s going with L’Rell. He agrees with what Georgiou said about him, that he’s no good for either side. “But maybe I can be good for both.” He tells her that her capacity to love saved his life. She tells him that now she sees only him in his eyes. They exchange embraces and then he’s gone with L’Rell, but he leaves her with a loop of rope tied in a bowline knot. He said that it was the first thing he remembered learning as a kid that made him him. Yeah, I cried. Burnham beams back to Discovery.
The next time we see L’Rell she’s about to give THE SPEECH to the leadership of the Klingon Houses. She tells them she’s the leader who will unite the Klingons. They laugh. Then she adds the Klingon part of the speech. She holds up the detonator and tells them to lay down their arms or she’s blowing Qo’noS to hell and back. The choice is theirs.
Apparently, they choose her way her because the next thing we hear is Burnham saying the war is over and apparently the Klingons made it out of their dark time as well.
Most of the rest of the episode is a celebration, with Burnham getting to see her mom, Amanda being pardoned and recommissioned, and Sarek getting to pin her badge back on and as a bonus, telling her how proud he is of his daughter. Not his ward, his daughter. I was still crying.
There is a ceremony at Federation Headquarters, I assume the next day, where Burnham is giving a speech, I’m not sure why, but the voiceover we heard at the beginning was apparently a part of that. Everybody gets a medal, even Hugh (crying, I tell you!). She even gives a shout out to Tyler, saying that everyone must be “a torchbearer, casting a light that we may see our path to lasting peace.” Amen to that.
Now, on this happy note with the plot lines all nicely tied up as a pretty ribbon, you might think the episode is over. You’d be wrong. This is the point when the writers said, “Hold my beer.”
The Discovery is headed to Vulcan to drop off Sarek and pick up their new captain. (I was hoping Saru would be the new captain.) Now running on the regular warp drive until a non-human interface for the spore drive can be found, they are preparing to jump, when they get a distress call. The communications officer tries to identify the Federation ID as its digits start to come up on the screen: NCC-17…
“Hail from Captain Pike, sir.”
Oh no they didn’t…
Burnham turns to Sarek, “It’s the USS Enterprise.”
The screaming and laughing could probably be heard by my neighbors, but I didn’t care.
That was the Best. Season. Cliffhanger. Ever.
And then they played the original Star Trek Theme song over the credits! I was dead.
Needless to say, I enjoyed the episode a lot. The episode’s pace was swift, wasting no time to cut to the heart of and resolve both new and old plot lines. Did it have issues? Sure. Did I care? Not really. They were minor. It was still great fun. That’s what I want in Star Trek, and they delivered. I’ll let the fanboys and fangirls go nuts dissecting timelines and Starfleet regulations. I’m good.
Kudos to the cast! Everyone gets a medal, but special commendations have to go to Doug Jones (Saru) and Mary Chieffo (L’Rell) for acting with those masks and doing so much with their eyes. Michelle Yeoh (Emperor Georgiou) was magnificent throughout, and she’d better be back guesting next season. And of course, to Sonequa Martin–Greene for doing a superb job shaping Michael Burnham into a fully-realized character with depth and complexity.
As usual the special effects were on point, and brava, once again, to Gersha Phillips, the show’s costume designer, for killing it with the landing party’s outfits. So much cosplay to do, so little time. A plea to the producers: Can we please keep the bridge crew intact, as well as Michael Ayres (the transporter officer with the cute hair) and Raven Dauda (Dr. Pollard)? Please and thank you.
A plea to the writers: Michael needs a break. How about a little “me time” for her, next season, huh? With or without a secret tryst with Ash Tyler. Your choice.
That’s it! It was a great first season. I cannot wait for Season Two!
by Davette See
DaVette See lives in Inglewood, CA with her husband, Rob, her mother, and her seven (yikes) kitties. She has a BA in English and Theater and a Law degree. When not writing, reporting, and video editing for BGN, she operates Running Lady Studios and produces animated shorts. She was a geek before geek was chic. She loves books, plays, movies, and more than anything, she loves telling stories.