Star Trek: Discovery “Will you take my hand” review

Adam Mathew 14 February 2018 NEWS

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Just bread and circuses really.

Peaked too early. When we look back across the collection of episodes of this stellar first season of Star Trek Discovery, we'll spot many a high point spike, and an awkward shrug to round things off. Showrunner Aaron Harberts really should have just tied this baby off last episode and boldly gone no further. Heck, they could have done it in episode 13.

At least in this gasping wheeze of a send-off we get to see Saru and Burnham united against their Captain Georgiou, instead of bickering for her favour (ah, the way we were, pre Battle of the Binaries). This time the human-vulcan specialist and the kelpien number two are in cahoots as rebellious children, part of a small group who know the real score – this inter-dimensional doppelganger of Philippa Georgiou represents Federation ideals about as well as L'Rell, the klingon spymaster who's locked in the brig.

Speaking of, when Burnham confronts her fake Captain, the ex-emperor decides to take a tour of the brig while giving out a quick, verbal reminder of her Linkedin page. She's a conqueror. She bent a universe to her will. Her knowledge is valuable and she represents the last salvation of a Federation on the ropes. They're either with her, or they're dead. This compelling speech is punctuated by the thorough arse-kicking of L'Rell in an effort to torture crucial info out of her. You see, the Federation has a solid plan to teleport into the guts of the Klingon homeworld and scan it from the inside out for military targets, but they need to know which caverns are dormant volcanoes and which aren't.



Sadly, L'Rell takes the terran-style chat like an absolute champ. However, the captain then rightly suggests that the Klingon-ish Lieutenant Tyler might be able to make up the difference. Delving into his half-breed Wikipedia of Voq knowledge, Tyler says he doesn't have all the answers, but he can find the rest of the info by taking a team to an Orion outpost on the surface of Qo'noS.

Amusingly, as the away team is being decided, Georgiou insists that herself, Burnham and Tyler must suit up in their best goth clothes to look like ne'er-do-wells, and that Cadet Tilly is to accompany them also. The homesick emperor had a ball with her terran counterpart, Captain Killy, and hopes to awaken something in this perpetually awkward Federation version of her.

What better place to have one's horizons broadened than the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is the Orions outpost? Klingon brutes are everywhere, as are the dregs from every other race imaginable. To cover more ground, the team splits off three-ways (and Georgiou takes that a step further by literally going off for a three-way with two lovely green-skinned sex workers). For her part, Tilly goes off to pump some local drug dealers for info after munging down some space whale on a stick (I personally would have ordered the Ceti eels). Burnam and Tyler break off to go for a flutter with a rowdy group of T'Sang gamblers.

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As Tyler is mixing it with the locals and using Voq's knowledge to full effect, the Klingon testosterone is too much for Burnham. Their savage merriment triggers PTSD flashbacks of her parents being slaughtered by Klingons on Doctari Alpha. Fun factoid: she caused her folks to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, thanks to a desire to star-gaze over an impending super nova. Tyler comforts her over this, and it's a nice little scene to show the two have tender feelings toward one another, despite their recent break up.

Meanwhile, Georgiou has managed to*ahem* pump some information out of her new friends, thanks to pillow-talk and threats of death by phaser. Tilly reaches her own epiphany, too, after hitting the space-crack hard and learning that the so-called drone she's been carrying is actually a hydro bomb. If it gets chucked into an active volcano – something this area of Qo'noS is famous for – the device would become a planet-killer. When the away team merges back into one unit, Georgiou seizes the device, pops the remote-controlled bomb down a volcanic chimney shaft and confirms all this.

Horrified, Burnham alerts Saru and they contact Admiral Cornwell. She's in on the whole deal because Starfleet no longer has the luxury of having principles – that old “never do genocide” section in the Federation mandate is, you know, open to interpretation. It's more of a rough guide, really.

Collectively, the Discovery crew pull a Burnham and mutiny. They won't burn a world to ash. They'll find a solution, phase one of which is convincing evil Georgiou to get her finger off the button in exchange for freedom. Once this is accepted (and a sometimes-antagonist for season 2 is established) the second phase is getting the freeloading L'Rell to work for them for a change. The terms are simple – you take custody of the detonator and use it to threaten your war-like buddies into submission and galactic peace – or else. It's a ballsy move, but the spymaster goes for it, and she unifies her people like a true torchbearer.

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And there you have it. With little incident, drama or any violent climax, the great war is over and so too is the first season of Star Trek: Discovery. Will You Take My Hand was merely a checklist tick off a number of potentially universe-and-crew-shattering things that had to be wrapped up without fuss, apparently. Tyler plants one final smooch on Burnham before going with L'Rell in order to better serve both of his half-breed races. Tilly is accepted into Command training and takes a small shuffle towards a career that's more... killy. Saru and Brunham get promoted, too, but neither of them land the coveted Discovery captain's chair.

No, that position belongs to a mystery somebody who's currently stationed on Vulcan. And, mid-warp over to pick up said cap, we're thrown a fan-service bone that's supposed to make up for what has so far been a perfunctory finale. Captain Pike and the U.S.S. Enterprise – the ol' NCC-1701 herself – is in need of assistance. Is that cameo cause enough to make me come back for season 2? Well...yeah. Yeah it is.

Star Trek Discovery is currently streaming on Netflix Australia. Check out what else is streaming this month on Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime Video and hayu.

VERDICT

A no-frills full-stop to what's otherwise been some of the best sci-fi television in years. It's hard to feel short-changed, though, what with the possibility of more Georgiou, some classic Enterprise moments and (hopefully) more Mudd.

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