the story: Burnham races to stop Mirror Georgiou's genocide against the Klingons.
what it's all about: The first season finale ends happily for Michael Burnham. She finally earns her way back into Starfleet's good graces. All it requires is for her to end the Klingon war, a war she started in the first place. Not a bad bit of work, really.
Once she realizes Mirror Georgiou's plan against the Klingons involves a weapon of mass destruction (this is kind of the first time I can think of where a Hiroshima/Nagasaki analogy is not only made but thwarted by the good guys; it's much more common for bad guys to deploy these things, or attempt to), Burnham finally decides to act against her, despite a reluctance tied to her guilt over what happened to her Georgiou. That just about wraps up everything the season was about, right there, in a thoroughly Discovery fashion. The logic of the storytelling all season has been contingent not so much on individual beats but how they work in concert. If you've bought into the majority of it, it's kind of impossible to say this wasn't the only way the season could end. Particularly, the Klingon arc itself ends perfectly, L'Rell essentially being given the ultimate bargaining chip to end the conflict and the Empire's internal strife.
I wasn't particularly happy, previously, with Lorca's fate. Tellingly, Mirror Georgiou receives a far different one, and that's one of the intriguing twists of the episode. Burnham arranges a kind of Starfleet pardon for her if she agrees to walk away. Some will argue that this was another wildly reckless move on the part of Burnham and/or Starfleet, and yet Mirror Georgiou is now entirely on her own. Even Khan needed lackeys. Alone, the former Empress is far more vulnerable, as she had been in the Mirror Universe before Burnham made the decision to bring her back to hers. It's hugely likely we'll see Mirror Georgiou again, which will be a can't-miss Discovery event when it happens, sort of like if we ever see Mirror Lorca's counterpart, now that we know the Lorca we followed came from the Mirror Universe all along. This is a series that has already shown a remarkable propensity for exploiting every juicy plot twist available to it. These are inevitabilities, really.
What wasn't inevitable? The biggest twist of the episode, at the end, when the crew is asked to respond to a distress call...from Pike's Enterprise. Aside from a handful of original series appearances (officially, the two-part "Menagerie," which cannibalized the first pilot "The Cage") and the Kelvin timeline movies, which never showed anyone past Pike himself, this will be a truly historic opportunity to revisit the franchise's origins. And Spock? Burnham's adoptive brother, after all. And a member of Pike's crew, as we all know. Needless to say, but any such prospects immediately became more enticing than Mirror Georgiou's future or the prospect of seeing a different version of Lorca.
- franchise - Ends a major conflict with the Klingons.
- series - Wraps up a season's worth of serialized storytelling.
- character - Burnham truly comes full circle as we see how events have hinged on her decisions at every turn.
- essential - Burnham's argument about Starfleet's ideals is illustrative of everything the franchise has always been about, regardless of the contents of the storytelling.
Michelle Yeoh (Mirror Georgiou)
James Frain (Sarek)
Mia Kirshner (Amanda)