Somewhere deep inside I hoped we might get two more episodes out of this year, but today we get the final episode of season three for Star Trek: Discovery. With the end of episode twelve, things do not look good for the good guys. Osyraa now controls Discovery. Saru, Dr Culber, and Adira remain stranded on the radioactive dilithium planet, and the crew attempts to retake the ship with the help of Discovery’s new AI. What could possibly go wrong with the Season 3 finale?
Season 3 Finale – When a Negative Is a Positive
With the finale I walked away with only one real negative, so let’s start with that because in many ways it turns into a positive. The biggest drawback to the season 3 finale was that it was 100% utterly predictable and safe. Nothing really popped out as a wow moment or happened that they didn’t telegraph well in advance.
Saru became daddy dearest to Su’Kal, which is fine because that in many ways that’s who Saru was. He learned to give orders, but he always possessed a passive nature. Burnham and Book fought back against Osyraa and won, and Tilly and crew fought to retake the ship and did what they needed to do. No one died or made any hard decisions. After the way this season went, I felt a bit disappointed. Also, the ending monologue by Burnham dragged for a bit too long and felt redundant.
At the same time, when a show can walk the predictable line and still entertain that demonstrates the quality of the show. Predictable it may be, I still thought it wrapped up an incredible year overall, and in many ways it almost felt like a season one. The previous two seasons could merely be prologues. Then again, given the way this season ends, perhaps all three seasons were prologues, and only now do we see the real Discovery.
Season 3 Finale – Stand Out Moments For Non-Crew
Overall the finale gave us a lot of action and chess moves, but a few moments stood out above the rest with the first such moment coming right at the beginning.
Gray. What the hell?! I have long questioned if Gray existed as a part of Adira’s mind, or if he represents some sort of ghost/spirit stuck in limbo. The opening to the finale made me even more confused. Last time Gray showed up, I think we can say it ruled out him being a part of Adira’s psyche, but now all of a sudden his existence is made tangible by the ships hologrid?! How can a ghost or spirit be made tangible by holo-emitters? This makes no sense even in the Star Trek Universe. The question going forward is are we looking at a future holo-doctor scenario like on Voyager? Will the Discovery brain trust an emitter that will make him tangible like the doctor?
I loved Janet Kidder as Osyraa this year. Something with her face always felt off. I do not know if it was the prosthetics or her wicked witch of the west vibe, but in the end she made an adversary both smart and sassy. She didn’t merely offer threats, but she threatened with a zeal and levity that can be hard to find in a villain. I really wanted her to be an ongoing villain in the seasons ahead, but sadly with her death that won’t happen.
Season 3 Finale – Stand Out Crew Moments
Book can telepathically communicate with creatures. We watched him do it several times all season, but he now becomes the second crewman that can activate the spore drive. It makes sense the way they explained everything, but now this, too, begs a question. Does this ‘duplicate terrestrial interface’ spell the end for Stamets? Back ups work well, but when they overlap in a narrative that usually means one of the two will disappear.
I love the job Doug Jones has done with the character of Saru, but I liked seeing him act without all the make up. It really drives home the job he does behind the makeup when you see the same ticks and expressions on the human face that you see through the prosthetics. Saru always gave off that passive feel, even while in command, but his role as father figure for Su’Kal fits his character perfectly. He exudes such a calm, mild and nurturing aura. He also gets line of the day with his line “Even in fear you can still step forward.” Helping Su’kal face his fears felt so natural for Saru.
Season 3 Finale – I Finally Got One Right!
The fun thing with shows like Star Wars and Star Trek comes from trying to predict where characters and stories are going. Fans guess 101 directions for them, yet the show always finds path 102. Back in episode three we wondered who would command Discovery in this new era. Burnham stepped aside for Saru, and things felt right, but as early as episode five, I could not help but feel Burnham needed the captain’s chair. Too much around what she did screamed captain material. Now, at the end, she finally gets her chair.
Burnham as a whole throughout this finale and season 3 as a whole worked really well. She defies the odd order or two, but she makes a choice and runs with it. Sound like a certain other captain we all know and love?
Notice at the very end everyone now wears the new uniforms and the old is washed away. This is Discovery.
Season 3 finale – How’s That Go Again?
One final note. The writers finally fulfilled the moment they ever so subtly teased all season. In a previous episode the show made a big deal about Saru’s command phrase. Would he use ‘engage’, ‘execute’, ‘punch it’? Osyraa would later comment to Burnham, asking what the phrase was they used to make the ship go.
The camera shows the crew staring in admiration at their new captain as she maneuvers to her seat. Burnham glows with pride as she takes her place, and then the camera sits on her for a long moment. You know everyone’s waiting to see what her phrase will be, and then she gives the command – Let’s Fly!