The following contains Star Trek: Discovery spoilers.
Star Trek Discovery Season 4 Episode 13
Star Trek: Discovery wraps up Season 4 with a fairly satisfactory if not necessarily groundbreaking finale that neatly wraps up most of its outstanding plot points in a bow by the end of the episode. This is a fairly impressive feat, given how much ground we needed to cover in this hour to begin with. Looking back on this season as a whole, it seems rather obvious now that the show would have done well to jettison some of the meandering middle episodes where not much happened in favor of making this finale more of a two-parter. If only to give some of its more obvious twists and contrivances a little more room to breathe.
Though “Coming Home” threatens our Discovery faves, most of the populations of Earth and Ni’Var, the 10-C themselves, and big chunks of the Milky Way itself with imminent death and/or possible genocide, everything turns out alright in the end. Michael and Saru manage to figure out a way to convey some really complex thoughts and emotional bonds using a translation algorithm based on math, the 10-C turn out to be incredibly emotionally empathetic and are suitably shamed into changing their ore-mining ways by an impassioned speech from Book about the destruction of Kweijan and what its loss has meant.
Is it kind of cheesy? Absolutely. Does it work anyway? Actually, for the most part, yes.
It’s true, “Coming Home” is not a particularly complex hour, particularly given some of the more in-depth philosophical and political debates we’ve seen this season. But, there are some great emotional beats and cool visuals that feel so incredibly Star Trek, it’s hard not to simply sit back and enjoy them. From the Federation’s attempt to evacuate as many people from Earth as possible to Tilly’s return (!!!) in the role of a confident leader and finally getting the chance to see the 10-C and their homeworld for ourselves, there’s a lot to like here.
It’s true, the 10-C still come off more as glowy giant krill than anything else, but the awe with which the Discovery true reacts to their world and their floaty godlike selves is wonderful. (Plus, on some level, it feels so right that a species who’s so far advanced from us in every conceivable way appears not to have become monstrous, but simply better and more kind.) Tilly returns and gets stuck spending three-fourths of the episode with Admiral Vance, but it turns out that Mary Wiseman and Oded Fehr have wonderful chemistry, and their (admittedly very random) bonding session about purpose and family is lovely.
Despite the fact that “Coming Home” does its best to make us think someone significant won’t survive the hour, almost everyone manages to make it out just fine. T’Rina’s mind-meld with the 10-C only knocks her out for a day or so. Detmer’s willingness to sacrifice herself to stop Tarka turns out to not be necessary. General Odoye purposefully crashes her ship into Book’s and survives. Tilly decides to stay behind with Admiral Vance on the sure-to-be-destroyed headquarters to help give her cadets the chance to escape, but they’re both saved at the last minute when the DMA debris begins to recede. Even Book himself is somehow miraculously rescued by the 10-C, even though they don’t entirely understand the concept of individual existence.
It’s unlikely that any of us are truly surprised by any of these twists—Discovery is not the sort of show that often takes the sort of risks killing major characters involves—but there are moments where everyone’s miraculous survival does feel a bit convenient (even if Sonequa Martin-Green truly does do her level best to sell us the idea that at least Michael believes Book is really dead). Look, I’m not saying I wanted any of these characters to shuffle off this mortal coil, but it’s an outcome that feels like a poor payoff to the stakes the back half of the season was insisting were legitimate.
The only true casualty is Tarka who ultimately sacrifices himself to save Book and gets a sort of mild redemption attempt, where he finally realizes that his alien bestie is most likely not waiting for him in a parallel universe, but is probably just dead and has been for some time. I realize I’ve had a much harsher read of this character and his arc than most, but
“Coming Home” also feels remarkably closed-ended for a season finale, leaving few hints as to what we can expect from the show’s fifth season. At one point, it appeared as though the destruction of the spore drive might mean that next year’s outing would involve the crew heading home from the Galactic Barrier the long way round. But, nope. The 10-C uses their final DMA-caused wormhole to transport them all back. The Federation is expanding once more. Book, having committed some light but mostly understandable treason is sentenced to help refugee families who’ve been displaced by the DMA’s path of destruction. He and Michael are forced to part, but neither seems terribly daunted by going galactically long-distance for a while. Tilly gets to hug it out with her former crewmates before ostensibly heading back to her cadets. Culber and Hugh finally get a vacation. And it turns out that Stacey Abrams is the President of Earth.
One of the few developments that seem likely to have any real impact on whatever next season’s story happens to be is the fact that Saru and T’Rina finally admit they’re into each other and want to give their adorably weird interspecies love a try. (Saru makes an emotional confession! T’Rina finally tells him to stop calling her Madame President! They hold hands!) How they’re going to make it work while she’s got a planet to run and he has to serve as Michael’s 24/7 emotional sounding board is up in the air, but watching them try is going to be amazing. Vulcan/Kelpian inter-species wedding ceremony when?