I fell behind on my reviews for this week and the next so I'm sort of stuck with reviewing both simultaneously for the mid season finale. However, they work together as a single storyline which carries from one story to another. In a way, it's very similar to the original pilot of the series and brings an end to many of the preexisting plots while opening up others.
The premise for the two episodes is that the starship Discovery has discovered a planet which can serve as a massive biological transmitter. The planet Pahvo turns out to be sentient, however, with its population being all the life-forms on it working together as a singular organism. I'm not going to say it's a direct rip off of the planet in Avatar as Gaia theory is a legitimate (if somewhat "isn't that just changing the definition of alive?") scientific model.
|This is an awkward situation for poor Saru.|
On the Klingon side of things, we find out T'Kuvma's plan to unite the Klingon Empire has gone horribly right. Kol of House Kor, the brutal honorless dictator, has all but taken over the Klingon Empire by bargaining the cloaking technology which T'Kuvma invented. L'Rell attempts to "join" him but actually intends to rescue Admiral Cornwell so she can defect to the Federation. This despite the fact she apparently tortured Ash Tyler while he was her prisoner.
|I like Admiral Cornwell and am glad she's alive.|
The villain, Kol, is a character who is completely one-dimensional and while he sounds like a Klingon at the end--we don't really have any reason why he's a worse character than T'Kuvma himself. After all, T'Kuvma was a racist evil jerkass himself. L'Rell is appalled by his behavior and he murdered her comrades but I can't really bring myself to care so much about her horror at him taking over. The Klingon War has been mostly off-camera and the confrontation with the sarcophagus ship at the climax of the midseason finale feels unearned if it's supposed to be the end of the war. The vast majority of the conflict has been off camera and it seems the vast majority of people killed in the war have been in the first battle with 10,000 listed as the number of casualties despite the Klingons being vicious evil savages.
|Kol is either hot for L'Rell or an idiot or both.|
The planet Pahvo feels like an intriguing addition to the Star Trek universe and I appreciated returning to the realm of the "weird" for the episode. The entire series, except for the desert planet in the pilot, has been on starships so far so it felt good to get back to some old fashioned exploration of the universe. The final space battle was also great with Captain Lorca showing himself not to be the evil Section 31 villain I expected him to be.
I liked the fact the show backed away from fridging one of its more interesting characters as well. Admiral Cornwell could have been written off the show a couple of episodes ago and looks like she is in "Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum" but turns out to be alive in "Into the Forest I Go." She was an intriguing character with a preexisting but complicated relationship with Captain Lorca so I'll be interested to see where that goes. In fact, I'd argue a much better episode would have been dealing with said relationship than the war which never really went anywhere.
|Not buying Burnham as a badass action girl. Sorry.|
In conclusion, it was an okay finale to the first season (technically the first half of the season) but nothing special. I think they really overspent on this series and could have probably done a lot better with Star Trek: Discovery if they just focused on the characters as well as ideas versus special effects. It remains to be seen if I'll continue reviewing each individual episode given the series "okay but not great" writing. I'll watch it but, honestly, probably am looking forward to Season 3 of The Expanse more.