Star Trek: Discovery’s first season (for all of its controversy) has finally come to an end. It was a metaphorically, if not literally, explosive episode, which saw the Discovery crew bring an end to the Klingon War and save the Federation.
How? The relatively quick wrap-up has left some fans scratching their heads, even if they tuned in weekly. It’s likely even confusing for irregular viewers largely keeping up via recaps and reviews. Fear not, Hybrid Network is here to break it all down.
First: how the war was won. The initial plan set forth by the Federation was actually the brainchild of the Mirror Universe’s version of Philippa Georgiou. The Prime universe Georgiou is, of course, dead — the one captaining the Discovery after last episode is her alternate reality counterpart, who was the Emperor of the Mirror Universe’s authoritarian Terran Empire.
Mirror Georgiou planned to deal with the Klingons in the same way she did in her home universe. There, the Emperor destroyed the Klingon homeworld Kronos by detonating a hydrogen bomb in the planet’s expansive network of active volcanoes. This initial explosion caused further devastation by generating a planet wide burst of pressure, essentially erupting all of the Volcanoes under the planet’s surface simultaneously. The Federation, facing the annihilation of Earth, was willing to commit this act of genocide to survive.
Unwilling to accept this moral no-win-scenario, Burnham managed to convince Starfleet and Admiral Cornwell that giving into their fears and abandoning their principles would compromise everything they stood for. Fearing the Federation would never be able to return from such an action, she devised a risky alternative.
Burnham played on the seemingly cold Mirror Georgiou’s fondness for the Mirror Universe’s version of Michael by setting her up with a tough choice: She could detonate the bomb, but she’d have to kill Michael to do it. Georgiou relented and, as part of her deal with Starfleet, went free.
It’s unclear how the Mirror Georgiou will be involved in future seasons of Star Trek: Discovery, but her existence in the universe is extremely interesting. She sets up as a recurring villain slash antihero for Burnham and the Discovery crew, maybe in the vein of Q from Star Trek: The Next Generation. However she’ll be used, we haven’t seen the last of her.
But what does Burnham do with the detonator? Well, buckle up: they choose to give the big red button to…the Klingon L’Rell, Voq’s buddy and follower of T’Kuvma. Knowing that Klingons only respond to strength, L’Rell will use the detonator to unite the Klingon clans, essentially holding a gun to the planet in the ultimate show of strength.
While that might seem a little cold and cruel, it’s the way Klingons operate. They only respond to strength and attack at any sign of weakness, addressed at length in this series. What I’m more interested in is what the T’Kuvma-inspired and L’Rell-ruled Klingon empire looks like, and what role it’ll play in future seasons.
We know it probably will play at least some role in future seasons because of Tyler/Voq. As of last episode, he’s come to a sort of balance between his two halves, with the memories of both under Tyler’s personality.
Despite making up with his former lover, Burnham, during the episode, he ultimately makes the decision to go with L’Rell in her quest to unite the clans. While this might seem like he’s kicking Michael to the curb for more of that Klingon action, he’s really hoping to serve as a bridge between the two species. It’s a job he’s uniquely suited for, as he was once a Klingon, but has been genetically altered to appear Human, while his mind holds the identity and memories of both a Human and a Klingon.
With the war ended, the remaining Discovery crew returns to Earth, lauded as heroes of the Federation and all receiving medals. Burnham, now fully reinstated as a Commander for her actions, gives a speech about the values of Starfleet. It’s a running theme throughout the whole episode, from the diplomatic resolution, Burnham urging Starfleet not to abandon their values even with their backs against the wall, and her final speech about the values of the Federation. The goal of this is two-fold: it represents growth from Michael from her mutiny in the premiere, but it also seems to be an on-the-nose overture towards some fans that have complained about Star Trek: Discovery not really being Star Trek.
The season comes to a close with the Discovery on a relatively inauspicious voyage: travelling with Sarek to Vulcan to pick up the ship’s new captain. That’s right, Saru won’t be the captain — he’s just the acting captain on this last voyage. But the new captain will be Vulcan, which will be an interesting dynamic given Michael’s background.
But the season couldn’t end without a major cliffhanger, could it? After just initiating warp to Vulcan, the ship receives a distress call — from none other than NCC-1701, the USS Enterprise.
This includes a hail from Captain Christopher Pike himself, the second captain of the Enterprise, who took over from Robert April, the first captain several years before the events of Discovery. He’s also the man that Kirk takes over from some 10 years after Discovery.
The Discovery drops out of warp, greeted by the still shiny and relatively brand-new (just 12 years old) Enterprise. It’s a great moment, seeing the classic Original Series Enterprise design rendered in cutting edge VFX.
Believe it or not, this isn’t just a one-off easter egg for a final moment. According to series executive producer Alex Kurtzman, the Enterprise will play a part next season. Not a huge one, not a main one or even a recurring one, but maybe a guest spot on the premiere.
Obviously, this is at least a really cool cameo, and at best a pretty huge nod for the fans, especially with the classic look the ship is sporting. But beyond that, there’s a pretty huge connection we might see explored: Mr. Spock.
If you’ve followed the series, you know that Michael Burnham, the series’ main character, is Spock’s adopted sister. After her parents died in a Klingon attack, she was taken in by Spock’s Vulcan father Sarek and Human mother Amanda.
While Spock is only directly referenced in one episode of the show, he might show up if the Enterprise and her crew does make a physical appearance. In Star Trek canon, Spock was the science officer to Captain Pike on the Enterprise before Kirk became captain.
Kurtzman said that the Enterprise playing a role doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see Spock in the flesh. However, he did say that the crossover does provide an opportunity to clear up some connectivity issues between Discovery and the rest of the timeline. One prime example? Why Spock’s adopted sister has never-before been mentioned.
CBS All Access has thankfully already dispensed with the usual “will they, won’t they,” which always seems to surround shows at the end of their first seasons. This might disappoint fans rooting for the show to be cancelled, but: Star Trek: Discovery has already been renewed for a second season. The announcement came back in October, less than a month after the show first premiered in September.
“In just six episodes, Star Trek: Discovery has driven subscriber growth, critical acclaim and huge global fan interest for the first premium version of this great franchise,” CBS Interactive’s President and COO Marc DeBevoise said in a statement at the time. By October the show had driven record subscriber sign-ups.