Star Trek: Discovery, S2.13; “Such Sweet Sorrow” opens the floodgates…

The latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery, “Such Sweet Sorrow,” may be best remembered as the “The Big Goodbye 2.0.” The crew truly coheres as a family, which has been an ongoing struggle with the show. Many characters have been maddeningly underdeveloped, such as the supporting bridge crew, who were little more than faces in chairs for much of the show’s run. In this episode, nearly everyone (though not all) gets their moment as Discovery (the series and the ship) faces dramatic changes…

****STARSHIP-SIZED SPOILERS AHEAD!!****

The sugar-loving teenage queen “Po” from the Short Trek “Runaway” returns…

Following threads from last week’s nail-biter (“Through the Valley of Shadows”), this week’s offering also follows threads from two of the ‘Short Treks,’ “Calypso” (which sees an abandoned Discovery, fully automated, sometime in the far future) and “Runaway” (in which Tilly befriended a young runaway alien queen and engineering genius named Po).

The Story.

Sarek of Vulcan is disturbed and calls out to Michael…

We see Ambassador Sarek (James Frain), on the shores of what appears to be in a meditative state on a Vulcan beach (Vulcan is certainly a lot more wet and woodsy in this new series), suddenly realizing that his adopted daughter Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin Green) is in immediate danger…

The Discovery’s crew is to evacuate to the Federation flagship, the USS Enterprise 1701 (no bloody A, B, C or D…).

Last week’s Discovery saw Discovery facing down a fleet of Section 31 ships, all under guidance of an omniscient computerized intellect called “Control”, which is seeking to perfect itself using data stored in Discovery’s computer (gathered from a now-dead alien ‘sphere’ ) that cannot be removed. Michael tells Captain Pike (Anson Mount) that the only solution is to destroy the Discovery, and its intractable sphere data, before the unstoppable Section 31 fleet arrives. Pike hails his old command, the USS Enterprise to aid in evacuating the Discovery crew.

Saru (Doug Jones) and Captain Pike (Anson Mount) make their way to the USS Enterprise bridge….

Extending forcefield corridors between the two ships, Discovery’s entire crew is evacuated to the Enterprise, and we get a really good look at the reimagined interiors of the iconic starship. Discovery’s officers each grab small personal mementos and keepsakes on their way out, as they board the Enterprise (which looks jaw-droppingly gorgeous, by the way...wish it looked this good in the Bad Robot films).

The gleaming glory of Pike’s USS Enterprise…

Number One (Rebecca Romijn) along with Admiral Cornwell (Jayne Brook), welcomes the captain back aboard his old command, and reports ship’s status. The Enteprise’s exec reports that all of Enterprise’s shuttles and service vehicles have had weapons and tactical systems upgraded for the approaching “Control” fleet.

The ever-efficient Number One (Rebecca Romijn) is on top of things.

Section 31 operative Phillipa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) enters the Enterprise’s bridge and is not exactly in love with the bright color palette of the Federation flagship.

Control/Leland boards the Discovery in a scenario envisioned by Michael with the aid of the Klingon time crystal.

On Discovery, Michael touches (but does not remove) the Klingon time crystal, which gives her a terrifying vision of the Discovery’s destruction at the hands of the combined entity of Control/Leland (Alan Van Sprang). By not physically removing the crystal, that fate might still be avoided (the time crystals are as much magic as the Bajoran orbs of Deep Space Nine…you’ll either buy them or you don’t).

The Enterprise fires at the Discovery, after the auto-destruct fails.

From the Enterprise bridge, the crew watches as Discovery’s remote control destruction counts down to zero…and nothing happens. Somehow, the sphere data prevented the ship’s self-destruction. Undeterred, Pike readies torpedoes and fires on Discovery, but to no avail. Burnham is convinced that the answer lies in the Klingon time crystal and the time suit created by Burnham’s mother Gabrielle. The Discovery, and her sphere data, can only escape Control by being thrown forward into the far future (her ultimate fate, as seen in the Short Trek, “Calypso”).

Tilly faces a reunion with an old–er, young friend.

Charting only four of the original seven signals that first sent Discovery on this quest, Michael determines that a fifth signal is going to occur soon, and it does… near the planet Xahia, a world familiar to Ensign Tilly (Mary Wiseman) as it is the home of her ice-cream loving friend (and Xahia’s teenaged queen) named Me Hani Ika Hali Ka Po, or just… Po (Yadira Guivara-Prip). Discovery spore jumps to Xahea with the Enterprise following at warp, which will take the flagship hours to get there, with the Section 31/Control fleet only 10 minutes behind her. The clock is ticking.

Another big goodbye in an episode full of big goodbyes; the official breakup of Hugh and Paul.

Following the spore jump to Xahea, Dr. Culber (Wilson Cruz) stops by engineering to check on his ex, Commander Stamets (Anthony Rapp). The two of them realize that they need ‘forward motion’ in their lives and they amicably (though painfully) make their breakup official. A sad moment for the first (and long overdue) openly gay couple featured in Star Trek’s nearly 53 year history.

Tilly brings ice cream for her friend and teenage monarch, Po, who is apparently destined by the fifth of the seven signals to help Discovery’s crew…

The queen Po is beamed aboard Discovery, where she gives her friend Tilly a big hug, but is quickly put to work in order to find a way to charge the time crystal using the spore drive (the only source with enough energy of such magnitude). The fully charged time crystal will give the suit enough power to throw the time-suit safely into the future (without the need of a red giant supernova), but it will leave Discovery’s spore drive incapacitated for at least 12 hours. My eyes crossed a bit during this stuff, I won’t lie…

Michael reviews her mother’s logs to get familiar with the operation of the time-suit…

The eccentric monarch Po, working with Stamets (Anthony Rapp) and engineer Jet Reno (Tig Notaro), helps to create a latticework frame around the time crystal that allows engineering teams to work on it without experiencing maddening visions or locking their fates, etc. It also has the benefit of preventing the fully charged crystal’s energy from leaking prematurely before the time-jump. The engineering team also reaches the conclusion that the time-jump of Discovery and Burnham’s suit will overload and burn out the crystal as well. Burnham will be unable to return to the present once she uses the suit to lead the automated Discovery into the far future. There is no other way.

Burnham prepares to say goodbye not only to her shipmates and loved ones, but to her century as well…

Even Sarek and Amanda inexplicably show up to say goodbye; this was a bit of a stretch. How does an ambassador to several Federation planets have so much free time?

Ash can’t join her, as he has responsibilities in this century that can’t be abandoned.

Michael’s selflessness (and apparent martyr complex) is frowned upon by her cynical ‘mirror-mother’ figure, Georgiou.

Burnham gets familiar with the operation of the suit (via her mother’s logs) as her colleagues, including Tilly, Georgiou (who accuses Michael of having a martyr complex), former lover Ash (Shazad Latif) and even her adopted parents Sarek and Amanda (Mia Kirshner) all come to say goodbye to their beloved shipmate, friend, and daughter. The tears uncork….

It’s official; the Discovery crew are a family now.

Not wishing to abandon their friend, a volunteer crew consisting of Spock (Ethan Peck), Stamets, First Officer Saru (Doug Jones), Ensign Tilly, Owosekun (Oyin Oladejo), Lt. Bryce (Ronnie Rowe Jr.), Commander Detmer (Emily Coutts), and several others volunteer to stay behind and help Michael to send their ship off to the future. Michael tries to dissuade them, but they are not having it. These volunteers all send off heartfelt goodbye videos to their loved ones, the mood is reminiscent of soldiers writing home on the eve of a hopeless battle. This notion of letting go is at the heart of the episode, and the emotions are keenly felt. Some of the secondary characters (such as Detmer and Owo) have been little more than speaking extras for much of the series’ run, finally get their moments, and the actors give it all they’ve got. An alternate title for this episode could’ve been “The Big Goodbye 2.0.”

Tig Notaro as Discovery’s cynical but big-hearted engineer Jet Reno.

There is also a foreshadowing moment as engineer Reno (Notaro) has to handle the crystal outside of its protective latticework, knowing that it would mean seeing (and locking in) her future. She touches the unsheathed time crystal and has the same apocalyptic vision of the Enterprise taking an undetonated torpedo right in the saucer section…

Once again, another round of goodbyes as Pike wishes his temporary cremates aboard Discovery the best.

Pike, who must return to his Enterprise, says his farewells to the Discovery crew, as well as to his Enterprise science officer Lt. Spock and his own Lt. Nhan (Rachael Ancheril) who are remaining with Discovery. He is about to bring up the subject of who will be Discovery’s new (however temporary) captain, but Saru reminds him that the subject can wait, based on the outcome of their imminent encounter with the Section 31/Control fleet. Fair enough. Pike returns to the Enterprise.

Saru prepares Discovery for battle with the incoming Control fleet, during what might be his last command…

The Section 31/Control fleet arrives…it’s crunch time.

Back aboard the Enterprise, Number One reports that the Control Fleet is closing, and we see both Discovery and the Enterprise preparing to engage the sheer overwhelming numbers of the enemy fleet…

The USS Enterprise launches armed shuttles in an attempt to maximize their numbers against the enemy’s numbers and provide cover as Discovery prepares to leap into the future…

The End.

Family.

Lt. Spock, preparing to remain with Discovery, leaving behind his berth on the USS Enterprise (of course we know he returns, but it’s the ‘how’ that has me curious).

It’s taken Star Trek: Discovery to get that same familial feeling we’ve had with other earlier Star Trek series, but it seems like it’s finally happened…a fact cemented with “Such Sweet Sorrow.” The episode’s title, a line from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” clearly applies to star-crossed lovers Ash and Michael, but also applies in a far broader sense to the entire crew letting go of all they care about for a greater calling. Nice to see Tilly, Saru and Stamets, as well as some of the other less-visible supporting characters like Detmer and Owosekun, composing their goodbye videos to their friends and families.

Rhys and Bryce (back to camera) are two characters who are still left as little more than walking props, despite this episode’s focus on the supporting characters. A genuine shame…

Sadly, lieutenants Bryce (Ronnie Rowe Jr.), Rhys (Patrick Kwok-Choon) and Commander Nilsson (Sarah Mitich, who previously played “Airiam” in S1 until it was discovered she had an allergy to the makeup) are all left maddeningly underdeveloped. In an episode where so many characters had their moments, leaving these three as breathing props is unforgivable.

Come together…right now, over me. Appropriate, since Spock kinda looks like a post-Beatles Paul McCartney now…

Beyond these terrible (and typical) oversights, the moments of the rest of the Discovery (and some Enterprise) crew coming together for Michael are both touching and earned.

That gorgeous new USS Enterprise!

The new bridge of the USS Enterprise is simply breathtaking. She’s never looked this good in any incarnation ever.

You can almost take a whiff of her new car smell…the reimagined USS Enterprise is simply gorgeous. Far better, in fact, than the Scott Chambliss-reimagining of her in the Bad Robot movies. Splashes of orange coloring along the bridge, right where they should be (my eyes saw red, but okay…), a cool approximation of the original captain’s chair, the moire patterns in the turbo-lifts, the bright red gridding in the corridors, and even the helm console scanner. This is as perfect a production design compromise between 1960s retro-futurism and current sleekness as it gets, folks…

“Wipe your shoes before you step onto the bridge, please…”

While we don’t spend nearly enough time on that magnificent new bridge set, Pike says it best when he utters, “Looks like I remember it.” It does, but with a hell of an upgrade.

Am I the only one who geeked out over the TOS-style mesh gridding in the corridors?

The starship-collecting geek in me is already looking forward to the blu-ray set so that I can still-frame the hell out of that bridge…

Ship porn… you’re welcome.

Oh, and the exterior is no slouch either. Leaning much closer to the TOS-era look than the 2009 version, it also demonstrates that the late Matt Jeffries’ design is still valid, more than 54 years after the late Gene Roddenberry gave it his approval during production of “The Cage” (which was also a voyage of Christopher Pike’s USS Enterprise…). To be honest, I never thought we’d ever see this much of the USS Enterprise on this series, but I’m also glad that we have.

Summing it up.

The genuine sense of foreboding throughout the hour is as palpable as the USS Enterprise-D’s imminent encounter with the Borg in Star Trek: Next Gen’s “Best of Both Worlds”, part 1. If Leland/Control does indeed turn out to be a porto-Borg, as many have speculated, it would be an interesting (if continuity convoluting) notion.

Your names, again?

If I have any criticisms, it’s that a few of the minor supporting characters remain little more than animated props, and that an extra few minutes could’ve been easily added into the 48 minute running time to fix this oversight.

“Oh, we just happened to be in the neighborhood of Xahia, and we thought we’d pay a visit… we brought snacks.”

I’m also still wondering just how ambassador Sarek and his wife Amanda were allowed to come and visit Discovery during a time of such extreme crisis.

While I didn’t necessarily dislike the character of Po, I can’t help feeling that her screentime would’ve benefitted some of the series’ grossly underused regulars instead.

The return of Po wasn’t entirely necessary either, save for the justification of her Short Trek (“Runaway”). Here’s hoping we don’t have Harry Mudd rushing in to save the day next week…please, sweet baby Jesus, anything but that.

“Such Sweet Sorrow” offers lots of powerful character moments, some amazing bits of fan service (I’m still geeking out with that beautiful new USS Enterprise!) and genuine nail-biting tension as well. Looking forward to the season finale… oh, and more USS Enterprise, please. Maybe a future Pike-based series, if anyone’s listening…?

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. David Cheng says:

    I agree with you that the other bridge characters should have been given more development. I was hoping and waiting to see a short scene of Lt, Rhys saying his farewell to his family and was disappointed when it was not forthcoming. Although it is great to see Michelle Yeoh as Georgiou having such a major role in the series, Lt. Rhys is the only other Asian character on the show and, except for his occasional lines, is becoming the token Asian serving on the bridge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It would’ve taken only a few minutes in a 48 minute episode (certainly not their longest) to show Rhys sending a video to his family as well (or Bryce, too, for that matter). Thanks for the comment, David.

      The show is two seasons in, and I barely knew Rhys and Bryce’s names when I wrote this…

      Like

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