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Star Trek Dis - Season 2 - Episode 14

Star Trek Dis - 2x14 - Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2

Originally Aired: 2019-4-18

Synopsis:
Season two finale. The U.S.S. Discovery battles against Control in a fight not only for their lives but for the future, with a little help from some unexpected friends. Spock and Burnham discern vital new connections between the red signals while Burnham faces one of life's harshest truths: the right decisions are often the hardest to make.

My Rating - 1

Fan Rating Average - 3.75

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Problems
- The stardate mentioned at the end of the episode is 1201.7. This is six units below the stardate mentioned in the pilot episode: The Vulcan Hello.

Factoids
- The title of this episode comes from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet: "Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow."
- Clocking in at almost 65 minutes, this is the longest single episode in Star Trek history.
- Number One is given a name in this episode: Una. This legitimizes non-canon books which originally gave her that name.

Remarkable Scenes
- The start of the space battle.
- Leland boarding Discovery.
- Spock and Burnham putting together the mystery of the signals.
- Burnham's trip through the wormhole.
- Leland's funky gravity fight with Georgiou and Nhan.
- Cornwell sacrificing herself to save the Enterprise.
- Georgiou taking out Leland.
- Discovery disappearing into the future and those that remain organizing a conspiracy to pretend none of this ever happened and bury all knowledge of Discovery, her spore drive, and her crew.

My Review
Well the surprisingly lengthy space battle was indeed fun as expected, but as usual with Discovery they put exponentially more effort into production quality than writing quality. As usual there are so many layers of incoherence and bad plotting to work through. For starters the absurd number of shuttles and "pods" (whatever those are, and who knows why they're never seen again...) hinted at in the previous episode is much greater than it seemed. They number at over 200! Seriously? Then we have super genius teenager Po who knows military tactics better than every trained Starfleet officer. Then there's the surprise allies arriving to save the day trope executed more sloppily than usual. Tyler somehow organizes and teleports everyone to the battle in the space of what, an hour? How does Tyler organize all that? When did he really start preparing it all? How did those ships get there so fast? Why couldn't Tyler have contacted Starfleet for help if he was able to reach the Klingons and the Kelpiens? There are no good answers to these questions. An even more awkward question is why didn't the Klingons look surprised that Tyler is even alive? Remember earlier in the season when L'Rell faked his death to keep her hold on power? The writers apparently didn't remember that.

Then there's that indestructible blast door on the Enterprise. That torpedo blows off a third or so of the saucer section but somehow leaves Pike untouched when he's standing just on the other side of a door. And why didn't Cornwell get one of those repair robots to pull the lever for her? A similarly embarrassing oversight has to do with the motivation behind transporting Discovery to the future to begin with. Set aside for the moment that they could've avoided this whole mess by using the spore drive to get out of range of Control to begin with. That was covered in the earlier reviews. What we need to talk about now is they've actually made it worse: Georgiou destroyed Control and nobody took a step back and realized, "Hey, wait, we won. We don't need to send Discovery to the future anymore. Control can't weaponize the sphere database if Control is dead. Hooray! No need to maroon a whole crew of people!"

But the writers didn't notice that either because they were utterly committed to sending the ship and her crew to the future at all costs because that was supposed to reconcile Discovery with canon. Except it doesn't. Not even close. It's an insult to expect the audience to believe that all the numerous tough things to reconcile that happened across these two seasons can be satisfactorily reset buttoned by making it classified. Too many people already know too many things. And making Discovery or the spore drive classified doesn't fix the numerous outright continuity errors, or the visual reboot. The only real solution is to dump Discovery into a multiverse like the Kelvinverse from Star Trek XI (2009) where it always should've been to begin with. It's quite remarkable that the writers saw the problem clearly enough that they were willing to almost totally retcon Discovery out of existence, but they didn't take it all the way. Thankfully they haven't yet precluded the conclusion that Discovery is in a multiverse. So we must continue to presume that it is and hope they never contradict it. Indeed, we should further hope they endorse Discovery being in a multiverse on-screen some day like was done with Star Trek XI (2009) for the long term health of the franchise's canon.

Looking to the future, Discovery's third season will have have some interesting plotting problems to solve internally. Setting aside canon concerns, the other half of Discovery's overall awfulness is its unwillingness to think through its innumerable comic bookish superpowers or the implications of the corners they write themselves into. They're going to be in the far future with an unknown political geography in an obsolete starship that has suffered from massive battle damage. Assuming they somehow survive, what do they do? This finale makes it seem like they're stuck there forever, but they still have the time travel suit. It just needs a new time crystal. And there sure seemed to be a lot of those on Boreth, so... yeah. Even if Discovery somehow delivers us the perfect fix to its canon-wrecking two seasons by endorsing the multiverse solution, it seems pretty clear we shouldn't trust them to tell a coherent story on its own terms any more than we should trust them to play nice in the sandbox of Star Trek's epic canon.

Overall, Discovery continues to be a massive disappointment and at times even a disgrace to the Star Trek franchise on many levels. Let's hope the writers start paying closer attention to the damage they're doing to the franchise and work to make repairs before it's too late.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Z on 2020-04-07 at 3:21am:
    Kethinov, I have loved (and mostly agreed with) your reviews for years. But this take is pretty ridiculous and completely unfair. You do have a few valid points about writing issues in this episode, but a number of your complaints were directly addressed. The crew made a pointed decision /not/ to run because they believed that Control would have the resources to track them down anywhere; and because charging the time crystal required power from the spore drive, they decided to move forward with the plan immediately (can't run and time travel at the same time, so they picked). There are obvious issues with this logic, but to imply that they never discussed jumping away is simply untruthful. And they went ahead with the plan after destroying Leland because it was heavily implied (like as explicitly as possible) that the sphere data was "in the wrong hands..." type of info and had to be kept out of anyone's contemporary grip (furthermore, I believe the phrase used after Leland's destruction was "Control is down"; there's no reason to think that disabling Leland and the local ships destroyed all of Control).

    You claim that making everything classified does not correct continuity errors, but (assuming people keep their mouths shut) I have no idea what you are talking about. Is calling all the info "top secret" lazy writing? Sure. The spore drive was lazy in the first place. But if the information was successfully suppressed in-universe, it does technically account for the lack of spore drives and angel suits in "future" ST stories.

    The "pods" they were referring to were, like, extremely obviously escape pods, established both verbally and visually. Again, there are inherent issues with the idea of retrofitting escape pods for combat, but to say that their existence is not explained is, again, untruthful.

    And even when your points are valid, the weight you give them is totally inconsistent with your criticism of past ST series. E.g. Captain Pike surviving the torpedo blast. Star Trek characters have *always* had "plot armor" when convenient. It has been an inherent issue with ST since TOS. Canon inconsistencies have existed since TOS (arguably more so in that series). These things are problems, but the fact that you take these errors and the errors you misidentified (mentioned above) and come to the conclusion that this show is a "disgrace" to Star Trek is inconsistent, unreasonable, and in my eyes totally undermines your credibility. As I have watched through DIS and read your reviews, it has become increasingly apparent that you weigh criticisms more heavily when drawing your conclusions, more so than any "classic" Trek show you have reviewed.

    Last two points I want to leave you with: 1) constant complaints about visual inconsistencies are tired and childish. Shows that look like TOS are not profitable, and frankly, they are not fun for most people anymore. I hope you get over it because every time you and people like you bring it up, it causes the rest of us to roll our eyes. 2) your characterization of Po in your review of Part 1 ("arrogant" and "snarky") comes across as *extremely* sexist, point blank. I've gotten the impression that you tend to lean left when it comes to social issues, so I won't accuse you of being a flat-out misogynist. But I would challenge you to question your socialized biases. All men, even self-proclaimed feminists, have stigmas that must be consciously suppressed.

    To sum all this up, I think it is ironic how lazy your DIS reviews have been given your accusations of lazy plot construction. It is obvious you made up your mind about this show well before it premiered. As someone who got into Trek fairly recently (i.e., I have seen every series now but only within the past ~6 years), and therefore has less nostalgia to challenge, I feel pretty confident saying these first two seasons were, overall, much stronger than the first two seasons of TNG, DS9, or VOY. And I love those shows immensely. I am sad to say I will not be visiting your website anymore, but after reading your DIS reviews I know I will find little of value in your reviews of Picard and any other Trek to come. LLAP.
  • From Kethinov on 2020-04-08 at 8:10am:
    The crew saying we're not gonna run and then citing an incoherent reason is not directly addressing it. It was clear that Control did not have the resources to teleport to their location. Track them, sure, but if you spore drive your way to the Gamma quadrant, you've bought a lot of time to prepare a defense because it will take them decades to travel to you.

    The sphere data being too dangerous for anyone to have is 1. hard to believe at all, but setting aside that 2. a reason to destroy it, not maroon a whole crew of people into the future. In previous reviews I discussed the incoherence of the sphere data defending itself from being destroyed, but even if we assume it's literally impossible to destroy Discovery with the sphere data on it, just send the damn ship to the future unmanned maybe?

    As for classifying the time travel suit and the spore drive, we need think this through a bit harder than "sure, I guess it was lazy writing, but meh." There are implications. Dozens (hundreds?) of people know about this tech. It actually is pretty hard to believe all of them keep their mouths shut, but even with this already overly generous concession, we have to grapple with the fact that the tech was rather easy to invent. It stretches suspension of disbelief to the breaking point to assume that nobody would ever reinvent it even if the tech was perfectly classified for the rest of Star Trek's history. When Star Trek is at its best, it gives us reasons to hang our hats on as to why some new superpower is unsustainable, e.g. the tech is too unstable to use, or it requires a super rare fuel, etc. Nothing like that was used to limit the powers of the spore drive or the time travel suit.

    Sure, they have some token limiting factors, but they're not nearly enough. The spore drive "damages the mycelial network" so using it hurts living creatures, so they want to use it sparingly, but they keep using it anyway. And what stops an unscrupulous power like the Romulans from inventing this and using it with no regard for the mycelial alien life? The writers didn't think that through. And the time travel suit just requires a time crystal—something that apparently naturally occurs in great abundance on planets like Boreth, and now you're suddenly godlike. They could've told us time crystals were impossibly rare, that there's only one in known existence, or maybe the time travel suit itself came from the future and can't be replicated. There's any number of ways they could've limited its superpowers and prevented it from being a "so why can't they just keep using it?" problem. But they didn't. The accumulation of an unsustainable number of superpowers is a serious problem in all Star Trek shows, but Discovery is perhaps the worst offender. And just so you know I'm not singling out Discovery here, Picard's season 1 finale is a pretty serious offender in this regard too, and my upcoming review will be as harsh to that finale as I was with this one, FWIW.

    Regarding the pods, I'm struck by you saying "to say that their existence is not explained is, again, untruthful" directly after saying "there are inherent issues with the idea of retrofitting escape pods for combat." Yes. Those inherent issues are exactly what I was complaining about. There is no coherent explanation for why weaponized pods (derived from escape pods or otherwise) are never seen again. It's puzzling why you accuse me of being untruthful for saying something you just said yourself. Perhaps our disagreement isn't about truth, but rather about how much someone should care about bad writing?

    As for "canon inconsistencies have [always] existed," this is a very common and very annoying argument trotted out by Discovery apologists all over the web. It is a textbook example of whataboutism, a common propaganda technique used to make bad arguments that sound plausible but are actually logically incoherent. In this case it's a bad argument for two main reasons: 1. It's not actually a defense of Discovery to say well everything else is awful too, and 2. Discovery isn't just as bad at this, it's substantively worse. Even setting aside visual canon, Discovery has created much harder to reconcile problems with canon than any previous Star Trek series. It's like the whole series is one long version of Voy: Threshold + TNG: Force of Nature + TOS: The Alternative Factor. Those episodes got zeros for a reason: if we took their canon implications seriously, it would contaminate Star Trek's canon too much, so we've all collectively agreed they aren't canon. To be fair to Discovery, it isn't quite that bad yet, but it's right on the edge. Bad enough that when you pair its story canon problems with its visual canon problems, we should seriously shuffle it off to its own universe to contain the massive canon implications of Discovery in order to protect the rest of the franchise from the damage.

    And regarding whether we should consider the visual canon issues valid too, of course we should. Like you, I don't want a show that looks like TOS either, but the obvious solution to wanting an updated look was to not make a prequel set during TOS. Enterprise did it right by being set a century earlier than TOS. The Picard show did it right by being set a century later than TOS and decades after TNG. Discovery picked the worst possible choice of setting and now their excursion into the far future is the writers basically admitting that mistake. As for your remarks visiting my biases regarding Po, that was uncalled for and unworthy of a response. But I will say this: her character would've been equally annoying had she been male. That should go without saying. It's sad I even had to say it.

    The saddest part of all this for me is contrary to what you seem to believe about me, writing negative reviews takes a lot more work than writing positive reviews. I put a lot more hours into my Discovery reviews than I have for Picard so far since Discovery required more criticism. (Though the Picard finale will require Discovery levels of work to adequately criticize, which is why the review is not up yet as of this writing.) I hold negative reviews to a very high standard. I vet each criticism rigorously before I release the review by first asking myself, "Wait, did I miss something? Did they actually account for this?" I do that because I understand the importance of checking your biases in order to gain as much objectivity as possible. I often like to wait several days after seeing a bad episode before I even write about it just to give myself more processing time to think through the criticisms more. Doing all that is why it takes me much longer to write negative reviews than positive ones. Calling all the work I put into these criticisms lazy when it's been some of the hardest work I've ever done writing Star Trek reviews is the real irony here.

    But I'm glad you wrote this, because I know your views are shared by others. I hope your comment and my response help people think more clearly about how the writing of Discovery is substantively worse. Or perhaps put a better way, substantively different. I think a simple fact nobody here could argue with is Discovery's writing has a much different tone than previous Star Treks. I don't think anyone would disagree that Discovery feels more like the MCU than like TNG or Voyager. What we debate is whether or not that is an improvement or a step in the wrong direction.
  • From McCoy on 2020-07-14 at 11:43am:
    I've just visited your site after a long time out of curiosity. And I'm pretty impressed, because you still write reviews. I gave up watching in the middle of second season. Then I've tried Picard, but gave up after infamous eyball scene. Star Trek franchise is dead for me. I never was a Trekkie, fanboy or something like that. But i hate bad writing, stupid decisions, unlikeable Mary Sues and - most of all - destroying good work of other people. This franchise was really great (I loved the visual style of TOS - completely archaic today, loved DS9 too - because it has best characters). Now we have high budget, terrible story and butchering canon (not only visual). I don't think it will be better, quite opposite sadly. Star Trek was always about humanity as its best, not some dark, dystopian horror. Looks like there is no hope for us, if we can create only depressing stories. They aren't "mature", they are depressing. Old Trek tried to show us we can be better. New Trek shows a world without morality, without hope. If this is our only possible future, then we are truly doomed. Best regards, Kethinov, thank you for all your hard work!

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