Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 13 Review — Such Sweet Sorrow

Star Trek: Discovery teases a series-changing twist in the season's penultimate episode.

This Star Trek: Discovery review contains spoilers.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Episode 13

After two full seasons, Star Trek: Discovery is so close to cutting itself free from the strings of pre-existing canon once and for all. With the ship poised to jump far into the future in order to keep the Sphere’s knowledge from Control, this show may be heading towards a largely unexplored frontier for the franchise. After two seasons of living in the shadows of the Star Trek stories that have come before, this may be Discovery‘s chance at narrative freedom. God I hope they take it.

Season 2’s penultimate episode is largely about moving the pieces into place for the final battle against Control and Burnham/Discovery’s radical mission to jump through time. While I am excited to see what Discovery throws at us in the season’s final hour next week, I can’t imagine it being better than this: an episode that reminds us why these characters and this ship is worth rooting for.

The plan all centers around Burnham. When it becomes apparent that she is the only one who can operate her mother’s time suit and that another time is the only place the Sphere’s knowledge will be safe from Control, Burnham volunteers for what may end up being a suicide mission. She will use the suit to guide Discovery into a wormhole and through time. Oh yeah, and she’s probably the second Red Angel who has been leaving the signals for Discovery to find.

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At first, if every goes right (which is already a big if) with the plan, there may be a way to bring Michael back to her home time. But you knew that was never going to be the case, right? This plot development screams of one-way mission, raising the stakes for Michael and making her choice to leave that much more noble. It also, as Emperor Georgiou points out, plays right into Michael’s martyr complex, but we can discuss that later…. Like, after Control does or doesn’t kill everyone we care about.

What makes this twist work particularly well is not only Michael’s choice to abandon her home and family to save, well, everyone, but the Discovery crew’s choice to accompany her. They don’t need to do this. Michael is the only one who needs to go to save all sentient life. (#Stakes) But, faced with the choice of letting their friend and co-worker go on a one-way mission into the alien frontier that is the far future all on her lonesome, the Disco crew decides to leave their own friends and family to ensure that Michael is not alone. Reader, I may have teared up a little.

Who knows what’s going to happen. I hope Disco pulls the trigger on this one, but with Spock still on Discovery and Reno seeing violent visions of the future, it’s unclear how events will play out in next week’s finale. That doesn’t change the bravery, empathy, and camaraderie the Discovery crew exhibits in making this choice. Whatever happens, this crew rocks.

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“Sometimes, we know the role we’re meant to play, sometimes we don’t—I’m not sure which is better, to be honest,” Pike tells Burnham, seemingly outlining the show’s own inconsistent perspective on connecting to pre-existing Star Trek canon. Is it better to know where Discovery’s future will lead? If the crew stays in their present, we know, in loose terms, where they will end up. Or is it better to chart a course for the unknown and the far future of Star Trek universe canon? I will always vote for the final frontier.

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Additional thoughts.

“It can’t just be about endings, can it?” – Michael

In an episode that includes a lot of cool stuff, we also get a snippet of Vulcan in the introduction and it is god damn beautiful. This show is so pretty.

The evacuation bridges between Enterprise and Discovery are pretty cool, too. I will never be tired of a Star Trek TV show with a real budget.

Georgiou’s eye shadow is on point.

While this show sometimes gets compared to J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek reboot film for obvious reasons, tonight’s episode gave me Abrams circa-Alias vibes with its long intro before the credits.

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The Sphere data is kind of intense, no? Like, if it’s that wise, maybe it should realize there are situations in which it should be allowed itself to be destroyed? In a season of television that is pretty anti-AI, the Sphere’s data has not gotten a lot of judgment from the Discovery crew for the dangerous levels of its self-preservation instinct.

We get to hang out on the Enterprise bridge in this episode. No big deal.

“Are you saying that another one of these signals will reveal itself because we need it to?” There were several times in this episode in which Georgiou seems to be the snarky audience surrogate, and it worked for me.

“I thought there were no bad ideas.” “That’s a lie.” “That’s a bad one.”

One of the members of the Enterprise crew has a British accent. Maybe she’s from France?

Po is back, having first featured in the Short Trek “Runaway”—yet another example of the Short Treks being vital viewing to watch this season.

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Xahea is so visually cool.

“Forward motion is the most honest choice for both of us.” I couldn’t have been the only one yelling, “Tell him you love him!” at the screen during Hugh and Paul’s awkward post-breakup convo? For the record, I would have accepted either one of them telling the other that they still love them and want to be together because they both obviously do. And they should both take a break and go to therapy, so this works out nicely, honestly. 

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Hugh stays on Discovery, right? I’m pretty sure he’s not in The Original Series.

Not enough dramatic TV shows feature ice cream.

“I had a special mom, too.” — Po, to Michael

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“I get to make a supernova. Today rocks.” — Po

Reno calls TyVoq “lovebug.” Honestly, one of my favorite moments of the episode.

The spore drive buys Discovery time, but not an infinite amount (that’s what the time crystal is for), creating a structure for this episode that loosely reminded me of Battlestar Galactica‘s excellent “33.”

There were so many group, ensemble scenes and montages in this episode in a way this show doesn’t usually manage. It makes for a much stronger story—even if Saru, Tilly, Keyla, Stamets, and Joann all have to have iPhones as scene partners in the “Goodbye, Loved Ones We’ve Never Before Seen on Screen Or, In Most Cases, Even Heard Mentioned” montage.

Spock tearing up when Michael tells everyone she loves them got me, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Michael’s goodbye scene with Sarek and Amanda did not get me. These relationships have been so inconsistently characterized for me. Sonequa Martin Green, James Frain, and Mia Kirschner were bringing it, but it was weird to me that Spock was not there (even though I know there are canonical reasons for it).

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For those keeping track at home, Michael tells the following people en masse that she loves them: Hugh, Cornwell, Pike, Spock, Tilly, Reno, Stamets, Cyborg, Joann, Bryce, Nhan, TyVoq, Reese, Georgiou, and a Blond Lady I Don’t Think I’ve Ever Seen Before Whose Name is Apparently Lieutenant Nelson. (Yes, I know at least three of those characters’ names because Pike does a helpful recap later in the episode.)

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Michael also gives TyVoq a private goodbye: an epicly romantic kiss that I just went ahead and let this show have because everyone was trying so damn hard in this scene (even more so than the weird Michael/Sarek/Amanda scene) to make this work. But this relationship still has a lot of undiscussed, problematic issues.

Is TyVoq’s mission to keep Section 31 free honest really just code for Shazad Latif wants to be on the Section 31/Michelle Yeoh spin-off show?

“You taught me to walk tall, and straight into the heart of it—just like you’ll teach your crew, when you have your own ship to command.” — Po, to Tilly

“This is stupid … You[]re] flinging yourself into the future like some galactic rubber band with a martyr complex.” – Georgiou, to Burnham.

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“Even though you had a son, you took me in as your daughter…” It’s language like this one from the Sarek family scene that gets me. Like, Michael wasn’t a charity case? She is a full person who brings lots of things to the Sarek family that they did not have before.

“I need you both to know that, what you gave me, I will carry it everywhere I go.” This is, objectively, a good line, though.

“It is the secret wish of every parent that our children make right the mistakes we ourselves have made.” Sarek, buddy, that’s not a secret.

I love that Michael basically learns how to time travel via Dr. Burnham’s YouTube channel. “Hi, aspiring time travelers! This week’s video is on poly-phobic metal material…”

More proof that this Spock is kind of an ass? He intends to peace off to another point in the timeline forever without saying goodbye to his parents. Is it weird that his dickishness has grown on me? I think I like it as a character choice in episodes that don’t place him on an unearned pedestal.

Make Saru captain already, you cowards!

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“Look, buck up, guys. I’ll be fine.” Reno is so cavalier about all of this.

“I’m Terran, by the way. From your Mirror Universe.” “What Mirror Universe?” This was such a weird exchange that felt shoehorned in specifically so it could be used in every “Previously On” segment that acts as the lead-in to the Michelle Yeoh Star Trek spin-off.

TyVoq is like, “Yeah, I’m skipping the battle that will probably result in lots of deaths.” And Pike is just like, “Yeah, sure, here’s a hall pass.” 

I cannot believe how much Captain Pike’s character worked for me this season, but boy did he ever. Aside from some of the connections they tried to make to existing canon, Pike’s character was a consistent bright spot in an inconsistent season. One goodbye scene that felt completely earned was his farewell to the Discovery crew, along with their tribute of respect for their departing captain.

Kayti Burt is a staff editor covering books, TV, movies, and fan culture at Den of Geek. Read more of her work here or follow her on Twitter @kaytiburt.


4.5 out of 5