Julien Neaves, Editor
While watching Season 4 of Star Trek: Discovery I couldn’t help comparing it to the divisive first franchise film The Motion Picture, both for better and for worse. And this impression was only cemented with the Season 4 finale which aired this week.
So with a DMA-sized SPOILER ALERT let’s chat about that finale and the season by extension.
One one of the first ways Season 4 reminded of TMP was how cerebral it was. Discovery has always been one of the more action-heavy Trek series but they toned it down considerably to tell a very classic Trek story. Now this had its advantages and disadvantages. An advantage was I enjoyed the sense of wonder and exploration of both the DMA and the Ten-C. I got some flavours of V’Ger here too. And when Ni’Var president T’Rina mind-melded with the Ten-C like Spock did with V’Ger I was like, yeah, TMP again. A disadvantage though, was this season was slowwwwwwwwwwwwwwww (just like TMP, btw). At points it really dragged and I was kind of wishing some baddie would show up and they could shoot them.
I have often said TMP is the most visually spectacular of all the Trek films. Discovery has always had top notch, film-worthy effects and the trend continued with its latest season. The DMA, new Federation ships (hello new Voyager!), and the Ten-C all have that visual pop. I was worried about the mysterious aliens when they first appeared like some cloud creature. I was burned with Green Lantern and I was not ready to be burned again. But I dug the reveal of their design in the finale. Trek has had way too many humanoid aliens so I dug the giant, odd design and their collective (but not Borg) culture. Really tickled the old cerebellum there.
In terms of characters, sadly it was more miss than hit. Let’s start with the good. Michael Burnham was a bit shaky as a captain last season and made some truly bad, emotion-driven choices. But she settled in the role this season and I was finally sold on her in the captain’s chair. And fans who are not fans of her penchant for weeping would be happy to know that there is very little of it to be found here. Season 4, however, fell back on some bad Discovery habits by having Michael solve EVERY problem. She came up with the answers for like 90 per cent of the problems and I frequently wondered why she even needed a crew at all. Bad show there.
And how about a speed round of the other characters. Saru and T’Rina (come on, you know her name is Trina and she got some hood in her) made for a truly sweet couple. Jett Reno is always a hoot. More of her please. Tilly and the cadets made for a cool episode and I liked her sacrifice (though unnecessary) in the finale. Book and Tarka, however, made for uninteresting antagonists, and Tarka’s risking the galaxy to reunite with his former cellmate and friend was the most bleh motivation. Culber and Stamets were underused. Adira and Gray were dreadfully dull. Owosekun and Detmer each had a episode to get a little character development but still not enough. The Discovery crew doesn’t feel like a crew and I still don’t really know them enough four seasons on. So when I see them in danger or celebrating after stopping the DMA the emotional reaction is exactly zero. And why is every crew member a commander? Are there no lieutenants or lieutenant commanders? #justsaying
And now the finale, which sees the Discovery crew meeting the Ten-C aliens, convincing to stop the DMA and saving Earth and Ni’Var. Yeah, everything was paint by numbers and little to no surprises to be found. The surprise cameo of US politician Stacey Abrams was completely lost on me (I’m from Trinidad and Tobago, I had idea who she was) and therefore no impact on me. Kudos to whoever enjoyed it but I think an in-universe cameo for your finale might have had more buzz. And the finale needed some buzz because it was just a whole big deflated bag of meh.
So while it’s nice to see Discovery going in a more cerebral direction they still need to balance it with action. And they still need to develop crew beyond the odd episode. And please stop making Michael solve everything. Just stop it! Season 4 is not as bad as the rocky Season 1 and about on par with the mixed Season 2 but still a drop in quality from the pretty decent Season 3. Let’s hope Season 5 is less TMP and more The Wrath of Khan. Or at least The Search for Spock.
Editor Jules’s Season 4 Score: 6 out of 10
So what did you think of the Discovery Season 4 finale? And you can check out more Trek content below:
Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.