April 24, 2024

How did this show get so boring?

It’s been a hot minute since then Star Trek: Discovery graced our screens for the last time. When the fifth and final season begins on April 4 on Paramount+, it will arrive two and a half years after Season 4 debuted. That’s a long time for such a forgettable season Star Trek. As The Daily Beast’s resident Obsessed Star Trek tragic – they won’t let me leave; please send help – the unenviable duty of reminding everyone what happened Discovery Season 4 in preparation for season 5 unfortunately falls to me.

It goes like this: it’s the 32nd century and a gravitational anomaly is on its way to Earth – only it’s not an anomaly; it’s an alien mining device. Burnham and the crew of the USS Discovery Go ask the aliens very nicely to stop mining and then everyone goes home and tries not to think about the billions of people it has killed. That may seem like a gross simplification of 13 hours of television, but it isn’t. Seriously, that’s it.

I still need to get 800 words out of this though, so: did you know that lobsters can theoretically live forever if nothing eats them and they don’t get stuck in their shells?

Doug Jones as Saru, Wilson Cruz as Culber, David Ajala as Book and Sonequa Martin Green as Burnham.

Doug Jones as Saru, Wilson Cruz as Culber, David Ajala as Book and Sonequa Martin Green as Burnham.

Michael Gibson/Paramount+

Interesting stuff, right? Definitely more interesting than season 4 of Discovery. If that brief overview sounds like that, maybe it should be one episode Star Trek instead of 13 you are right. But this is Discovery; it needs an overarching plot, so this particular idea is spread across multiple slices of bread until all semblance of plot and pacing is functionally invisible.

If you really want to get into it, here goes: In Season 4, we join Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and her boyfriend, Book (David Ajala), in what amounts to a Federation outreach program . They deliver the Federation’s newly acquired dilithium, before Book heads to Kweijan for an alien bar mitzvah. Shortly afterwards, it is destroyed before his eyes by a strange anomaly. This sets up the big theme of Discovery Season 4: Therapy. Everyone is getting therapy this season, even the ship’s computer (Annabelle Wallis), who is now sentient, is getting therapy.

Book must deal with his grief because the Federation has a new president, Laira Rillak (Chelah Horsdal), and Michael Burnham, former mutineer – and cause of more than a hundred million deaths in the Federation – is not happy. As Ni’var, the reunited Vulcans and Romulans, plan to rejoin the Federation and help tackle the anomaly, now called the DMA, Burnham is forced to join galactic politics.

This also introduces us to President T’Rina (Tara Rosling), who we soon learn has Kelpian Fever, baby! This is the most interesting part of this season, because this Vulcan is bad off for Saru (Doug Jones) and won’t admit it. We also get a multi-episode arc in which Gray (Ian Alexander) gets a new android body, while Adira (Blu del Barrio) must contend with how that changes their relationship – aided by more therapy – before both largely disappear from the season.

New face Ruon Tarka (Shawn Doyle) has an idea on how to stop what he believes is actually an alien weapon: a nuclear weapon in space. It’s illegal, but Tarka doesn’t care. He’s too cool for school, even though school says there are no nuclear weapons. This will be important later, but for now it’s time to debate whether it’s okay to put nuclear-armed aliens in space.

It looks like things are about to move towards said aliens, but Burnham’s mother Gabrielle (Sonja Sohn) arrives as a rogue Qowat Milat (those pointless sword elves from Picard Season 1) stole some dilithium and it’s time to track them down. After some sword fights, it turns out that the evil space ninja stole the dilithium to save the Abronians – some random aliens who are there… for a while.

Back on Discoveryeveryone gets some time off and therapy from Doctor Culber (Wilson Cruz), who is also getting therapy from another guy, entirely because everyone telling him about their problems is stressing him out. However, Book and Tarka are done with therapy. They want to blow up the DMA, but we still have five episodes to go, so that doesn’t work. Now they’re looking for a new way to blow it up. In the meantime, Discovery leaves to find the aliens who control the DMA, called the 10-C, to negotiate. Both presidents go along: Rillak because it is a political and diplomatic mission, and T’Rina to keep an awkward eye on Saru. Discovery‘s hallways.

Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham and Doug Jones as Saru.

Sonequa Martin-Green as Burnham and Doug Jones as Saru.

Marni Grossman/Paramount+

Than, Discovery sometimes pushes the boundaries of space travel (which usually consists of sparks and actors wiggling in their seats), has a quick acid trip with the team, and eleven and a few hours later, we Finally Look who’s behind the DMA. They are large space whale insects. At this point the series essentially becomes one Arrival, as the crew of Discovery use math to communicate with the giant super aliens behind their shuttle bay’s force field, because they’re real nerds. At the same time, we learn that the DMA is on its way to Earth and Ni’var.

Admiral Vance (who we all love because he is Oded Fehr) begins to evacuate, aided by Tilly (Mary Wiseman) who now teaches at Starfleet Academy, while fending off space debris pushed to Earth by the DMA. Despite the apparent time pressure, Burnham and company spend some time patting each other on the back while Book and Tarka stand up. But Book has doubts when he discovers that it might not be so safe… to blow the place up.

Vance finally calls off the evacuation efforts as things become too dangerous and stays behind with Tilly to protect Earth. At which point he produces two flasks of whiskey to celebrate their impending death. The fact that the guy in charge of Starfleet packs two bottles is never mentioned.

The 10-C becomes briefly angry at Book and Tarka’s interference and it appears that Book dies in the resulting conflict. But no, the 10-C saved him. Only Tarka, who was not receptive to therapy this season, bites the bullet. The 10-C stops mining, Earth (and Vance and Tilly) are saved, Saru and the horny space president hold hands, Book gets community service, and everything ends back where we started.

It’s sad that Discovery is coming to an end, but what’s sadder is how much season 4 spelled doom for a series that endured sad nerds getting upset over Klingons getting better makeup to revive the series for new audiences. Throughout its first two seasons, it maintained a careful balance between the humanity of Star Trek and the more action-oriented pace of the most recent one Star Trek movies. Even season 3, which saw Discovery moving to the distant future was a smart and effective shift after Season 2 explored old ground.

Still, it feels fitting that season 5 will be the show’s last, considering that season 4 felt like the backlash from Picard‘s love of references and name dropping, as opposed to the more interesting beginning of Discovery, despite suggestions that Elon Musk is a scientific luminary. However, if you’re one of the people who missed or rightfully forgot about season 4, you now know that you’re not missing anything, because it literally adds nothing to the series. Now, for nothing, time for therapy – no idea what gave me the idea.

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