Trekathon Season Review: Discovery, Season 2

January 25th, 2020

That’s right, I never wrote my review of Discovery Season 2. Overall I liked it, but I’m more excited about season 3. Details and spoilers below.

There’s a lot to like in this season of Discovery – a fairly interesting (although occasionally incoherent) main plot, an interesting use of Spock and other links to the original series, some incredible action sequences, and a couple of really good episodes. There are some missteps that keep it from being great though.

I was pretty uncertain about using Spock before the season – it’s a nice link to TOS, but it’s also a difficult tightrope to walk given the requirements of continuity. The show did a good job with managing that overall, and the plus is that Spock is one of the very best characters Trek has ever had (well performed by Ethan Peck). For me they didn’t quite deliver on the promise of the relationship with Michael Burnham, but maybe that’s inevitable given the emotionless Vulcan affect. But overall it added more than subtracted. And no mention of Sybok, the cowards.

Anson Mount as Captain Pike was incredible. It’s one of those performances where someone just completely inhabits a character. While his management style isn’t always the way I’d do things, there was a clear ‘philosophy of command’ that underpinned everything he did. For me probably the highlight of the season.

At the other end of the spectrum, Tilly was criminally misused and underused this season. The writers seemed to lose the handle they had on her last year, and instead we get a fairly confused subplot about her being ‘haunted’, and otherwise not that much from her. Tilly is a great character, and I hope they can get her back on track next year.

In terms of character arc the biggest change was Saru, who had some of the most interesting developments of anyone over the season. This is also where the links to the Short Trek episodes was the most interesting, making the Short Treks required viewing to understand the season.

The overarching story of the season took a while to get going, mostly the fault I think of a fairly confused setup. I’m still not 100% clear on what the inciting incident for the season actually was – where energy bursts observed? Or was there some prediction of them? Or something else? Honestly, three lines of dialog would have fixed all of this. But once it got going, particularly the Georgiou and Section 31 part, there was great momentum and a strong finish.

The setup for Season 3 is probably the most exciting part of all this. Setting Discovery in the pre-TOS era was always a straight jacket that made it very difficult to tell stories with a large scale, because there was always the question ‘hang on, why didn’t anyone else ever mention this’. Getting into the far future will give the writers a much freer hand in setting up a story.

Overall I enjoyed the second season more than the first season. I’m going to put it just ahead the strongest season of Enterprisee, it’s the best season of Trek since the glory days of TNG and DS9.

The rankings now stand at:

The very best of Trek:

  • TNG Season 6
  • DS9 Season 2

Strong performers:

  • DS9 Season 5
  • TNG Season 3
  • TNG Season 5
  • TOS Season 2
  • DIS Season 2
  • ENT Season 3
  • TNG Season 4
  • VOY Season 4

Mixed bag:

  • TOS Season 1
  • DS9 Season 4
  • DIS Season 1
  • ST Season 2
  • DS9 Season 1
  • ENT Season 4
  • ST Season 1
  • VOY Season 5
  • ENT Season 1
  • VOY Season 1
  • TNG Season 7

Not good:

  • DS9 Season 3
  • DS9 Season 6
  • VOY Season 6
  • VOY Season 3
  • TNG Season 2
  • ENT Season 2
  • TAS Season 1

Really just awful:

  • VOY Season 7
  • VOY Season 2
  • DS9 Season 7
  • TOS Season 3
  • TAS Season 2
  • TNG Season 1

And finally, it’s time for the review of Picard episode one.