The decision to abandon and destroy Discovery does not go as well as planned when the Sphere data protects the entire ship and not just it database. It appears the crews of the Discovery and the Enterprise are running out of options but another idea is raised. if the blueprints for Burnham Snr’s time-travelling ‘Red Angel’ suit still exist and the materials can be found to replicate it, the suit could actively be sued to drag its wearer and an entire starship into the future and beyond the reaches of ‘Control’ and its plans for domination. The only problem is that for ship and suit-wearer it’ll most likely be a one way trip – and the only person who can wear the suit is Michael.
Pike initially disallows the sacrifice, but realising there is no other way, he reluctantly agrees to go along with the plan. However with the minutes and seconds ticking away to solve the technological problems, Michael’s friends and a royal connection of Tilly’s (see Short Treks!) plan a show of support for Michael as her time draws near…
Though last week’s episode felt like it was launching us into the kinetic climax of the show, Such Sweet Sorrows still feels like the calm before the storm in some ways… essentially everyone running around and prepping for the big space battle and endgame that’s somewhat overdue. Though it’s all solid enough – good direction, acting, special-effects as we’ve come to expect, one of the problems the episode encounters is a narrative device that has hobbled many a show – a tendency to build up to a ticking clock climax where everyone then stands around reminding everyone else of how little time they have… and giving huge monologues and speeches about it. There were at least two points during Sweet Sorrow where the seconds were literally on a countdown displayed on the wall behind characters and our heroes were talking about personal forward momentum while inadvisably standing still. Sometimes the subspace subtext is just the text…
(There’s also the awkwardness of the ‘Why don’t we just build another Red Angel suit?‘ which – though the technobabble makes clear it would hardly be an easy task – does seem to be considered, debated and solved in almost real-time and beggars the question something wasn’t already working on that as a hail-mary back-up…).
The biggest talking point is, of course, the re-imagining of the classic Enterprise bridge, which might have got a clean-up and more realistic upgrade but still manages to walk the line between being simultaneously fresh and new and yet achingly nostalgic with equal grace. The production designers earned their wage with this set and it’s sad that we’re likely not to see it again after next week’s denouement. Yadira Guevara-Prip’s return as Queen Me Hani Ika Hali Ka Po (‘Po’ for short, thankfully) is also a welcome addition and one whose savvy optimism and self-assuredness perfectly combats Michelle Yeoh / Georgiou’s snark and cynicism. It also ticks off another formal tie-in between those Short Treksand the main thrust of the series, making it seem more likely the futuristic Calypso might also find its place.
With the key bridge crew all electing to stay onboard Discovery as it readies to get sling-shot into the future, it’s tempting to think that this could be the fundamental shift that some fans have called for, one that eliminates the pre-Kirk stabilisers and rips Discovery out of regular mythological Trek canon where it hasn’t always found the best fit. Discovery vanishing from its current era and traversing a future universe could be a solution and would also explain an in-universe solution as to why its ground-breaking technology wasn’t used more widely in later eras. And yet… there’s SO much pointing to that for the season finale (even the title is Shakespearian for farewells) that we’re overlooking some of the obstacles. We know – or we think we know – that Spock, currently staying aboard the Discovery, must not / can’t / does not leave the 22nd Century because he still has to make friends with one James T. Kirk etc. Jett Reno/ Tig Notaro and her acerbic wit would be a great addition to the regular crew, but would a ship really need Stamets and Reno on a regular basis (if the dialogue is as snarky as it usually is, it’s tempting to say ‘yes’).
Some real weight then as characters say their goodbyes to crew-mates, family and each other (with Tilly’s obligatory babbling and Michael now blubbing more reliably than Jennifer Love Hewitt on Ghost Whisperer) even if there’s more circling of the event horizon rather than forward momentum.
It’s been a bit uneven and the season, but Discovery remains must-see and next week’s finale will hopefully pay-off a lot of this season’s beats…